Talk On Driver Behavior And Safety To Be Held May 10

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

"How Drivers Behavior Impacts Safety" will be the topic of discussion at a free, public talk from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, May 10 on the Mezzanine Floor of the Cottage Bakery and Cafe, 14 S. Linn St. Linda Ng Boyle, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering in the UI College of Engineering, will be the guest at the Café Scientifique of Iowa City presentation.

One aspect of Boyle's work involves a study of how people's behavior affects their risk of injuries and mishaps, including why drivers commit errors and crash, as well as how they respond to emergency situations.

Boyle says that many new automotive devices, such as anti-lock braking systems, airbags and third brake lights, are designed to make driving safer by alerting drivers to slow down or move to an adjacent lane. "However, what many system designers do not expect to happen is that drivers may change their behavior in a different way -- one that may actually create a less safe situation," Boyle says. "This behavior can be defined as adaptive or compensatory behavior. That is, after using a system for a long period of time, drivers may change their performance or driving behavior based on what they anticipate the system will do. The goal of my study is to understand how the driver's behavior may change over time so we can design smarter systems that will account for these changes."

Boyle, who is also a human factors researcher in the UI Public Policy Center and faculty director of the Human Factors and Statistical Modeling Lab, recently received a prestigious five-year National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for 2006. She plans to use her award to advance knowledge of adaptive strategies in driving as influenced by prolonged system use, integrate the research into graduate courses, and develop outreach activities for K-12 students and teenage drivers.

The talk is the final seminar to be presented by Café Scientifique of Iowa City during the spring 2007 semester. Sessions are held on the second Thursday of the month from September to May. Café Scientifique of Iowa City is a meeting forum where the public is invited to explore and debate the latest ideas in science, mathematics, medicine and technology. The Web site for Café Scientifique is located at: http://www.physics.uiowa.edu/cafe/.