Road Safety Policy and Standards
Submitting InstitutionHeriot-Watt University
Unit of AssessmentPsychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Summary Impact TypePolitical
Research Subject Area(s)
Medical and Health Sciences: Public Health and Health Services
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration
Psychology and Cognitive Sciences: Psychology
Summary of the impact
The impact of the research during the assessment period has been in its
contributions to the development of public road safety policy in the UK
and in Scotland, particularly affecting young people; the development of
ISO standards for safety evaluation; the dissemination of its results to
industry and other stakeholders; and public education about the dangers of
The case study is underpinned by a programme of research carried out over
the past 15 years, initially at the Transport Research Laboratory, and
then from 2001 until the present at Heriot-Watt University (in the
Psychology group of the School of Life Sciences from 2005 onwards). The
key researcher is Dr Terry Lansdown, a senior lecturer with a network of
UK and international research collaborators such as Transport Canada, with
whom there is a long term collaborative research relationship on policy
development and TUV Rhineland, with whom Lansdown's group worked on a
European Evaluation project.
Over the last 15 years, Lansdown has undertaken projects applying
theoretical knowledge about attentional allocation to the reduction of
driver distractions. In psychology and cognitive neuroscience, attentional
control refers to individuals' capacity to choose what they pay attention
to and what they ignore. Safe allocation of the driver's attention is
influenced by the vehicle (and other equipment used), the environmental
conditions (e.g., the design and quality of the road and prevailing
weather), and the capabilities of the driver (e.g., their skill level or
sensory resources). When considering driving, attention may be allocated
strategically to a specific task or demanded by some external stimulus.
Within this framework, Dr Lansdown has undertaken a programme of
empirical research to further understand the relationships between
voluntary allocation of attentional resources and inappropriate (and
potentially dangerous) distractions. The research has used two
complementary methods; the experimental measurement of effects of
distracters on accuracy of vehicle control in a driving simulator, and
survey methods to determine the real-life impact of these distracters on
road safety. For example, in 2009 Dr Lansdown undertook a comprehensive
questionnaire survey seeking to determine real world levels of engagement
with distracting behaviours. The study revealed a frequent engagement with
highly distracting activities in the vehicle, many of which are illegal in
the UK. Both youth and extraversion, which tends to be manifested in
outgoing, talkative, energetic behaviour, were found to predict engagement
with distracting activities, e.g., texting while driving.
Dr Lansdown's research plan has been conducted in collaboration with UK,
European and International partners (e.g., GEC Marconi on information
beacons at the roadside, Jaguar Cars on speech interface and Mercedes
Benz), and has gained funding worth over £1m. Dr Lansdown previously
worked in both of the largest transport research organisations in the UK,
the Motor Industry Research Association (1996-1998, Post-doctoral
researcher) and the Transport Research Laboratory (1998-2000,
Post-doctoral research fellow), before joining Heriot-Watt University.
References to the research
Lansdown, TC, Saunders, SJ (2012). Driver performance, rewards and
motivation: A simulator study. Transportation Research F-Traffic
Psychology and Behaviour, 15, 65-74. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.trf.2011.11.004
Lansdown, TC (2012). Individual differences and propensity to engage with
in-vehicle distractions — a self-report survey. Transportation Research
F-Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 15, 1-8. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.trf.2011.09.001
Lansdown, T, Brook-Carter, N, Kersloot, T (2004) Distraction from
multiple in-vehicle secondary tasks: vehicle performance and mental
workload implications. Ergonomics, 47(1), 91-104. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00140130310001629775
Lansdown, T. McGuigan, NM. Gardner, P. Visual preference
survey. Sustrans. 1 year, 2010. £10,000.
Lansdown, T. Scotsim: design, audit and evaluation (sub contract).
Scottish Government. 1 year, 2006. £7000.
Lansdown, T. Analysis of driver and vehicle data collection metrics.
EPSRC. 3 years, 2001-2004. £95,000.
Lansdown, T. Design and data analysis. Transport Research Laboratory. 1
year, 2004. £4,000.
Graham, R. Fowkes, M. Lansdown, TC. Speech Ideas.
EPSRC Innovative Manufacturing Initiative. £28,000.
Details of the impact
The Impact of Lansdown's work is in two broad areas. The development of
updated ISO standards for safety evaluation (and its application by
industry) and the development of public road safety policy in the UK and
in Scotland, particularly affecting young people and dissemination of the
His on-going work in establishing and developing definitions for
consistent measurement of driver visual behaviour has been applied through
the International Standards Organisation mechanism. For example, ISO 15007
(Road vehicles — Measurement of driver visual behaviour with respect to
transport information and control systems) was revised in 2011 based upon
changes in measurement technologies. Dr Lansdown's provided definitions
and metrics describing the measurement of driver visual behaviour, and
providing updated models to apply to the man machine interface. This has
resulted in a common adoption of terminology across industry and
application of common standards in training and induction for Road Haulage
companies.  ISO15007 promotes safe and efficient driving. Lansdown is
member of BSI (British Standard Institute) committee EPL-278-23, which
deals with human factors in transportation, and had represented the UK in
the ISO, technical committee 22/SubCommittee 13/Working group 8 on
transportation man-machine interactions.
Dr Lansdown participated in an International Multi-Laboratory study to
test the updated draft ISO standard. His role was to examine the data and
make recommendations on the validity of the study and recommend
alternative data, which was incorporated in the final standard. The study
involved contributors from Europe (BMW, Daimler Benz, Heriot-Watt, and
INRETS), North America (Dynamic Research Inc., Ford, and Transport Canada)
and Japan (JARI).BMW developed an evaluation tool in conjunction with a
German University designed to test the standards in the ISO, which they
circulated to the ISO working group. This went to a panel of Academics,
and ultimately was tested by the International-Multi Laboratory for
validity as an evaluation method. He has actively contributed to other
pertinent work items in ISO guidelines, for example, the Driver Occlusion
evaluation standard and the Lane change evaluation task
Lansdown has been active in linking research findings to the development
of UK policy. In 2008, he was invited to join the core group of the
Department for Transport's Scoping Study of Driver Distraction. This
comprised six of the most influential UK experts research-active in the
scientific area of driver distraction to define policy requirements for
driver distraction in the UK. The Government's Department for Transport
published the report summarising on-going work and identifying gaps in
understanding (Basacik and Stevens 2008,
which provides the basis for refinement of policy on hand held phone
devices and in-car distractions such as entertainment systems. Lansdown's
2002 paper Individual differences during driver secondary task
performance: verbal protocol and visual allocation findings. Accident
Analysis and Prevention, 34(5), 655-662. cited as a reference that
informed the findings of the scoping study.
As part of the ScotSim Project, Lansdown worked on the design and
development of this innovative simulated training package. Participants in
the project were pioneering individuals and organisations testing the
technological solutions aimed at delivering one of the future solutions
for truck driver training. The project was designed to meet the challenge
of the European Parliament's mandate in 2003 that, by 2009, drivers who
transport freight in the states of the European Union must obtain
certificates of professional competence and undergo periodic training.
This has had an impact on how road haulage companies recruit and train
their staff .
A special interest group concerning driver information systems was
established under the auspices of the EPSRC professional networks
programme. The aim of the interest group is to promote human factors
research to improve road safety. Lansdown is a steering group member and
has contributed actively to collaboration within the UK via this group.
Appropriate dissemination of documents and findings to stakeholders has
been effective via, for example, several events sponsored by I.Mech.E.
As indicated above, Lansdown can evidence impact with the general public
via interaction with the media. He has participated in numerous interviews
with radio, television and published media, most recently about his 2009
work on real world levels of engagement with distracting behaviours during
driving BBC, 27/9/09 Mail on Sunday, 2009). Lansdown was an invited
speaker at the 2011 Brake Conference, `Youth, Gender and Road Risk — 9th
Road Safety Forum International Congress'. This event demonstrates his
recognition as subject expert, and provided an opportunity to disseminate
recent findings on young driver risk factors, to an audience that will
represent policy makers, road safety practitioners, academics, and the
On 8th February 2011 the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change
Committee of the Scottish Parliament convened a special session on young
driver road safety (Scottish Parliament 2011). Lansdown was invited to
give evidence as an expert witness to the committee.
. Lansdown was one of a panel of three experts that informed the Committee
in how to develop Scotland's Road safety Framework 2020. The meeting
further substantiates his reputation as an academic whose research is
having an impact on the development of improved road safety in the UK, as
the findings of the committee fed in to the regular review of Scotland's
Road Safety Framework 2020.
Sources to corroborate the impact
 Road Haulage Association Director for Scotland and Northern
Ireland who will verify that the ScotSims project has had a direct
impact on how hauliers train their staff
 Senior Specialist in Safety Analysis and Human Factors Volvo
Research in Gothenburg can confirm that they apply standard ISO15007