Preventing Crashes: Driver Safety through Human Factors Science

November 13, 2007

This event was co-sponsored by FABBS, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and the American Psychological Association.

driver_safety1-300px.jpgFABBS, along with the Human Factor and Ergonomics Society and the American Psychological Association (APA), hosted a Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill. The briefing addressed the current status and future progress of human factors issues in driver and highway safety.

Highway crashes resulted in nearly 43,000 fatalities and more than 2.5 million injuries in 2006 alone. In fact driving fatalities are the most common cause of death for individuals between the ages of 4 and 34. However, one of the most often cited statistics regarding transportation safety, is the finding that anywhere from 70 to 90% of all crashes could be prevented.

Human factors science has much to contribute to increasing driver safety through better vehicle design, signage, training, and overall integration of the driver into the vehicle/highway system. Improving our understanding of the factors that contribute to crashes holds the greatest potential for reducing injuries and fatalities on the highways.

Emerging technologies have the potential to save thousands of lives every year – but only if they are designed with consideration for human capabilities and limitations. As technological innovations create new opportunities for aiding drivers, research is needed to evaluate the impact of these technologies on drivers’ behavior, especially as it relates to crash risk. Similarly, research to better understand the underlying causes of crashes would be instrumental in crafting educational initiatives, technological interventions, and other measures to influence driver behavior and reduce crash risk.

driver_safety2-300px.jpgPaula Sind-Prunier (National Transportation Safety Board) started the event by offering a brief overview of the positive influence human factors science can have on understanding driver and highway safety and reducing highway crashes and fatalities. Thomas A. Dingus (Virginia Transportation Institute) spoke to the impact of driver performance and behavior on driving safety, including driver drowsiness and inattention. John D. Lee (University of Iowa) discussed driver distraction caused by technology and ways to reduce such distractions. Donald L. Fisher (University of Massachusetts Amherst) offered insight into the importance of driver training and newly-licensed drivers. Wendy A. Rogers (Georgia Institute of Technology) served as moderator.

The audience was comprised of staff from Congressional offices, including the House Committee on Highway and Infrastructure and the Senate Commerce Committee, Senators John McCain (AZ), Pat Roberts (KS), John Warner (VA), Jon Kyl (AZ), Chuck Grassley (IA), and Congressmen/women Jerry Costello (IL), Diana DeGette (CO), Jerry Moran (KS), Steve Pearce (NM), Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC), Steven LaTourette (OH), Jim Moran (VA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), and Mike Turner (OH). Also attending were representatives from the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Government Accountability Office, Federal Highway Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and others. This group provided for a lively question and answer period, after the presentations.  


Watch videos of the speakers from this congressional briefing.

Please note that video of the presentation by Thomas A. Dingus is not available.

Wendy A. Rogers

Paula Sind-Prunier

John D. Lee

Donald L. Fisher


Download copies of PowerPoint presentations and other materials from this event.

rogers_07_thumb.gifWendy A. Rogers (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Overview

One-page summary

prunier_thumb-07.gifPaula Sind-Prunier (National Transportation Safety Board)
Driver Safety through Human Factors Science and Practice

One-page talk summary

lee-07-thumb.gifJohn D. Lee (University of Iowa)
Technology and Driver Distraction

One-page talk summary

fisher-07-thumb.gifDonald L. Fisher
Newly Licensed Driver Crashes: Causes and Remediation

One-page talk summary


Thomas A. Dingus

One-page talk summary





Speaker Biographies

Photo Gallery

FABBS changed its name from the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences (FBPCS) in 2009.