Exploring Driver behaviour under conditions of darkness: shedding light on the night time traffic death toll

Williams, Saajidah Bibi (2018-12)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Road traffic crashes are a global public health concern and the leading cause of deaths and injuries. While it is possible to be involved in a road crash at any given time within the traffic environment, previous research studies have shown that the burden of road-traffic injuries is disproportionately borne by hours of the day during which the lowest proportion of traffic is typically present, i.e. night time. In South Africa, 58% of traffic deaths occur during the hours of darkness in South Africa, and the risk of being in a fatal crash is 4-5 times higher at night time than daytime. The purpose of this study was to explore driver performance and behaviour under night time conditions in order gain insight into traffic crash patterns and driving behaviour at night time. This was accomplished by analysing crash and fatality data over a period of 10 years to examine the characteristics of night time crashes, analysing driver videos to assess driver performance at night time (in terms of speed choice, intersection behaviour and compliance with traffic rules) and examining the beliefs and perceptions of drivers that underpin and govern their behaviour at night by means of a survey. The results from the crash and fatality datasets indicate that traffic fatalities are higher at night time, head/rear end crashes and crashes with fixed/other objects are predominant at night, pedestrians constitute the largest proportion of fatalities and traffic fatalities are higher at night for young male drivers. The results from the driving videos show that at night, drivers exceed the speed limit or adopt a speed that closely approximates the speed limit, use enhancements in street lighting to increase speed and adopt similar scanning patterns at night time as during the daytime. The results from the surveys indicate that drivers generally rate their driving ability at night more positively, are more likely to adopt higher speeds and contravene traffic rules at night, are likely to experience highway hypnosis and struggle with detecting pedestrians and estimating the speed of moving vehicles. The findings from this study can aid in accounting for the high number of traffic fatalities at night, assist in constructing relevant and meaningful interventions to reduce the number of traffic deaths at night and help engineers and designers to develop roadway facilities that accommodate drivers’ needs and limitations at night.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Padongelukke is ʼn wêreldwye publieke gesondheid bekommernis en die toonaangewende oorsaak van dood en beserings. Alhoewel dit moontlik is om op enige oomblik in ʼn padongeluk betrokke te wees in die verkeeromgewing, vorige navorsingstudies het gewys dat die las van padongelukke oneweredig gedra word deur ure van die dag waartydens die laagste proporsie verkeer tipies teenwoordig is, d.w.s. tydens die nag. In Suid-Afrika vind 58% van verkeerdode tydens die ure van donkerheid plaas en die risiko om in ʼn noodlottige botsing te wees is 4-5 keer hoër tydens die nag as in die dag. Die doel van hierdie studie was om bestuurder optrede en gedrag onder nagkondisies te verken om sodoende insig na verkeerbotsingpatrone en bestuurder gedrag gedurende die nag te verkry. Dit is bereik deur data oor botsings en noodlottighede oor ʼn tydperk van 10 jaar te analiseer en die eienskappe van nag-ongelukke te ondersoek, bestuurvideo’s te analiseer om bestuurder optrede gedurende die nag (in terme van spoedkeuse, interseksie gedrag en nakoming van verkeerswette) te evalueer en om die oortuigings en persepsies van bestuurders wat hulle gedrag gedurende die nag regeer, te ondersoek met behulp van ʼn opname. Die resultate van die datastelle van botsings en noodlottighede dui aan dat verkeerdode meer is gedurende die nag, dat kop/agterkant botsings en botsings met vaste/ander objekte oorheersend gedurende die nag is, dat voetgangers die grootste proporsie van noodlottighede opmaak en dat verkeerdode hoër gedurende die nag is vir jong mans. Die resultate van die bestuurvideo’s wys dat, gedurende die nag, bestuurders die spoedgrens oorskry of ʼn spoed baie naby aan die spoedgrens aanneem, verbeteringe in straatbeligting gebruik om spoed te vermeerder en soortgelyke kykpatrone gedurende die nag as gedurende die dag aanneem. Die resultate van die opnames toon aan dat bestuurders oor die algemeen hul bestuursvermoë meer positief gradeer, dat hulle meer waarskynlik is om hoër spoed aan te neem, dat hulle verkeerswette oortree gedurende die nag, dat hulle waarskynlik snelweg hipnose sal ondervind en dat hulle sukkel om voetgangers te sien of om die spoed van bewegende voertuie te skat. Die bevindinge van hierdie studie kan help om te reken vir die hoë getal verkeerdode gedurende die nag, kan help met die konstruksie van relevante en betekenisvolle ingrypings om die getal verkeerdode gedurende die nag te verminder en om ingenieurs en ontwerpers te help om padfasiliteite te ontwerp wat bestuurders se benodighede en beperkings gedurende die nag kan akkommodeer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105076
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