Reading the Road
: The Effect of Driving Experience on Hazard Awareness.

  • Anne Scrimgeour

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Solving the problem of road traffic accidents in the UK requires a multifaceted approach to training and assessment. One paradox of accidents is that younger drivers, particularly males are over-represented in accident statistics. This thesis was concerned with examining differences in driving experience on the awareness of hazards and how this experience develops over time, particularly the transition from learner to novice driver. It explored the use of static images to examine traffic images independent of motion judgements from which to examine hazard awareness between groups with varying driving experience. The first study examined the difference in hazard awareness between learner drivers, a novice group who had no more than two years unsupervised experience and an experienced group who had more than five years of unsupervised experience. Experienced drivers demonstrated a higher level of hazard awareness than both novices and learner drivers. However, novice drivers did not demonstrate a higher level of awareness than learner drivers and this finding was replicated throughout the thesis. The similarity in performance measures found across all experiments suggest that novice drivers do not have a significantly enhanced mental model of traffic environments in comparison to learners. It was suggested that there is a protracted learning curve for the reading the road element of hazard perception before a driver can be considered to be experienced. The studies all included different scene types and the findings across the different traffic scenarios also suggest that driver training should include a wider variety of traffic situations and highlight hidden dangers, particularly those found on rural roads. It was concluded that novices develop very little hazard awareness in the first years of solo driving and this clearly has implications for policy makers. It was suggested that the introduction of safety measures for new drivers should involve a probationary period that restricts driving conditions which are associated with increased crash risk.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAlissa Melinger (Supervisor) & Christopher Benwell (Supervisor)

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