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Off the beaten track: situation awareness in experienced and novice off-road drivers

Stevens, N, Salmon, P, Walker, G, Stanton, N

General

ARSC conference 2016

EXTENDED ABSTRACT: Off-road driving describes a driving task undertaken on a surface other than an engineered durable roadway surface such as concrete or asphalt. This may include activities such as driving on beaches, dirt roads, or traversing open country with no designated roadways. It is both a popular pastime and a necessary undertaking for drivers worldwide. Indeed it is conservatively estimated that globally more than 50% of government controlled and managed roadways are unsealed. As with conventional driving, crashes and fatalities occur in off-road driving. Despite this, the study of these common driving environments has been limited (Stevens & Salmon, 2016). A notable aspect of recent fatal crashes in beach driving has been the identified role of inexperienced drivers in causing the crash. This paper presents the results of an exploratory off-road naturalistic driving study which utilised Verbal Protocol Analysis to assess situation awareness in novice and expert drivers. The findings revealed important differences between the novice and expert drivers relating to the information used, the strategies adopted, and the general driving approach. The implications for offroad driving such as beach driving are discussed.