The impact of localized road accident information on road safety awareness
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that road traffic accidents represent the third leading cause of ‘death and disease’ worldwide. Many countries have, therefore, launched safety campaigns that are intended to reduce road traffic accidents by increasing public awareness. In almost every case, however, a reduction in the total number of fatalities has not been matched by a comparable fall in the total frequency of road traffic accidents. Low severity incidents remain a significant problem. One possible explanation is that these road safety campaigns have had less effect than design changes. Active safety devices such as anti-lock braking, and passive measures, such as side impact protection, serve to mitigate the consequences of those accidents that do occur. A number of psychological phenomena, such as attribution error, explain the mixed success of road safety campaigns. Most drivers believe that they are less likely to be involved in an accident than other motorists. Existing road safety campaigns do little to address this problem; they focus on national and regional statistics that often seem remote from the local experiences of road users. Our argument is that localized road accident information would have better impact on people’s safety awareness. This thesis, therefore, describes the design and development of a software tool to provide the general public with access to information on the location and circumstances of road accidents in a Scottish city. We also present the results of an evaluation to determine whether the information provided by this software has any impact on individual risk perception. A route planing experiment was also carried out. The results from the experiment gives more positive feedback that road users would consider accident information if such information was available for them.