Bowen, Louise

Bowen, Louise
Start date:
October 2017
Research Topic:
Behavioural Aspects of Safer Transport
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Professor Andrew Smith
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:

The study of transport behaviour is essential for health, safety and productivity. Despite extensive research on specific topics in certain areas of transport there are still substantial gaps in our knowledge. The knowledge we have also needs better dissemination and consideration should be given to the impact of the research on policy and practice. The aim must be to make all transport modes safer and to use multi-methodologies to address established problems and also topics which have recently emerged. Technological advances have also meant that transport has changed and the impact of technology needs to be addressed. In addition, technology can now be used to prevent and manage unsafe behaviour.

Inappropriate driving behaviour (e.g., speeding) is often dealt with by sanctions and/or by attendance at appropriate training courses. What is missing is an understanding of the motivation underlying unsafe behaviour. Another major problem with much of the research is that factors are often studied in isolation whereas it is clear that a multi-variate approach is essential. In addition, it is important to adjust for possible confounding variables which may influence both risk factors and outcomes (e.g., demographic variables; lifestyle; job characteristics and psychosocial factors). This approach has been used to address issues such as wellbeing and can now be applied to driver safety. A recent survey (N > 2000) using this approach was carried out. The results confirmed that poor driving behaviour, driving when fatigued and risk taking predict RTAs. These effects were still apparent when demographic, driving, lifestyle, health, psychosocial and work characteristics were covaried. The three risk factors produced additive effects with those who had all three being 2.55 times more likely to have an accident than those reporting no risk factors. Based on these findings it is important to use a holistic approach to improve transport behaviour in all domains and in groups where research on transport behaviour is poorly developed.

My PhD focuses on wellbeing, as well as other factors, with the aim of formulating empirically validated interventions to mitigate unsafe transport user behaviour patterns, thus reducing fatal, serious and minor accidents. This in turn may lead to economic savings linked to the reduction of accidents; safer use of vehicles and increased awareness of other users; effective enforcement and training schemes based on reliable behavioural models, as well as safe integration of new types of vehicle and increased usage of safe behaviour.