Danger perception test helps reduce road accidents

Danger perception test helps reduce road accidents

Psychologists develop danger perception test which helps to reduce traffic accidents

Monday, 10th of November 2014

Scientists at the University of Granada (UGR), in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University (UK) have designed a test to train new drivers and improve their driving skills, by presenting them with virtual dangerous situations which they might take years to experience in real life situations.

The research, published in the Traffic Injury Prevention Journal, is the first danger perception test adapted to the Spanish context. The test has been employed in other countries (such as England, the US, and Australia) in order to obtain driving licences for over twenty years, and is particularly useful for evaluating new drivers. Some experts suggest that it could also be used as a psychotechnical test to evaluate danger perception in elderly drivers.

Drivers are shown realistic videos that display several dangerous situations. After viewing the video, they must complete a series of task such as identifying the main risks and predicting the possible outcomes in each scenario. The test is a means of measuring the situational awareness of participants, in other words, the degree to which they perceive the dangers they are confronted with.

One key advantage of audiovisual danger perception tests is that all participants can be evaluated via the same combination of danger situations (or with alternative versions of the test which have the same comparable variable properties).

Cándida Castro, the principal investigator working on the project, explains that “our danger perception test distinguishes different types of drivers, with different degrees of experience and a different profile of relapse”. The project has been developed in collaboration with David Crundall, a researcher from Nottingham Trent University.

This research has also established that new and reoffending drivers are more prone to distraction than non-reoffending, experienced drivers.

Underestimating danger

Apprentice, new and reoffending drivers (whether they have previous experience or not) tend to underestimate danger—i.e. they acknowledge less frequently potentially dangerous situations as dangerous. They also display more risk-taking attitudes and responses than non-reoffending experienced drivers (i.e. they do not as frequently take evasive action before potential traffic dangers).

Researchers also found empirical data which suggests that training based on instructive comments improve the driver's danger perception skills on the road, even in brief training sessions (8 minutes). These instructive comments guide participants, and provides them with relevant information on where they must focus their attention to recognise and prevent danger. This project has been funded by the General Traffic Office and the CEI-Biotic at the University of Granada. It also enjoyed the disinterested collaboration of the ‘Victoria y Luna’ driving school in Granada, and the Genil driving school in Ogíjares, both of which provided students for the survey.



Cándida Castro Ramírez
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Granada
(CIMCYC). Centre for the Research on Mind, Brain and Behaviour
Phones: 958240663 / 958 240662
email: candida@ugr.es


Castro, C., Padilla J.L., Roca J., Benítez I., García-Fernández P., Estévez B., López-Ramón M.F. & Crundall, D. (2014). Development and validation of the Spanish Hazard Perception Test. Traffic Injury Prevention. DOI:10.1080/15389588.2013.879125
Castro, C., Peña-Suárez, E, Ventsislavova, P., Gugliotta, A.A., García-Fernández, P., Roca, J., Padilla, J.L. y Crundall, D. (2013). Desarrollo y validación de una versión nueva del test de percepción de peligros: sensibilidad al entrenamiento mediante comentarios instructivos. DGT. Proyecto de la DGT- 0100DGT23259. Available at: http://sl.ugr.es/06CB