The Road Ahead : April May 2016
QUEENSLAND’S LARGEST CLUB 11 APR/MAY 2016 THE ROAD AHEAD THE TRIPLE WHAMMY OF DISCOURTEOUS DRIVING deemed most stress-inducing, such as aggression and distraction. The university’s ‘Immerse Laboratory’ was used to house a purpose-built simulator, and 22 people recruited to undertake a drive along a programmed route. Actors were filmed playing the roles of ‘aggressive’ driver, ‘distracted’ driver, ‘oblivious’ driver and ‘friendly’ driver, and the footage projected onto the screen to create the impression that they were driving at the same time as the test subjects. The aim was to make the simulation as real as possible to ensure the participants’ reactions were authentic. “There was a bit of deception – there was only one simulator running but the participants thought there were three because they’d spend time getting to know the other ‘participants’, who were actually the actors,” Dr Scott-Parker said. “We needed to have that control over what they thought they were seeing; they believed this was a true interaction with people.” Creating such a realistic simulation produced a few downsides. Motion sickness resulted in only half the participants finishing the entire drive; one was so angry with the ‘aggressive’ driver that he wanted to “beat him up”; and another so taken with the “friendly” driver that he wanted to ask her out for coffee. The upside of creating such a realistic environment was knowing the behaviours exhibited by the participants mirrored those they would exhibit on the road. This meant the physiological reactions to stress were also realistic. Those physiological reactions were measured using heart monitors, samples of salivary cortisol, facial expressions, gestures and speech. A snapshot of the participants’ heart rate alone showed driving stress had negative health effects in the short and long term. “Aggressive behaviour does tick off some serious indicators – such as high blood pressure – and doing that even on a semi-regular basis will actually lead to, potentially, serious health issues down the line,” Mr Turner said. “The study highlights not only the short term problems around driving aggressively, but the long-term health issues as well, and highlights that we can all benefit from driving in a courteous way.” n Information gathered from the focus groups that participated in the University of the Sunshine Coast study showed three consistent sources of discourteous behaviour: 1. Infrastructure – road works, roundabouts and intersections. 2. Manoeuvres – merging, overtaking/ being overtaken and blocked routes. 3. Road users – tailgating, distracted driving, speeding, territoriality and driving with L or P plates. RACQ Executive General Manager Advocacy Paul Turner said knowing the causes and effects of discourteous behaviour was essential to creating and implementing effective resolutions to benefit Queensland’s road users. “RACQ can talk to government about dealing with those infrastructure issues, and we need to talk to motorists about how they can be more courteous to each other.” NEWS FEATURE Road works are a source of stress. The view from the simulator. A heart monitor recorded the subjects’ reactions to stress.
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