Handbook of road safety research

Handbook of road safety research

Books Applying cognitive psychology to user-interface design M.M. Gardiner and B. Christie (Eds) perceptual processes would have made the book more u...

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Books Applying cognitive psychology to user-interface design M.M. Gardiner and B. Christie (Eds)

perceptual processes would have made the book more usable in teaching, but that apart it can be recommended to all those wanting to gain an overview and introduction to the area.

J. Wiley and Sons; Chichester, 1987. ISBN 0-471-91184-4, pp 372 + ix, £29.95.

John Wilson

With the growth in application of cognitive ergonomics (although an ergonomics which is not cognitive is hard to imagine) and cognitive psychology, to systems design, this is one of a number of current timely books (see, for instance, John Carroll's Cognitive aspects of human-computer interaction). The central aim of this volume is to explain how to apply principles drawn from cognitive psychology to the design of user interfaces with computer systems. The major intended audience would appear to be cognitive psychologists, with the stress on how to apply the discipline, but early chapters covering introductory material make it readable for ergonomists and, to some extent, interested and motivated systems designers. The content of the early introductory chapters caused some head-shaking amongst colleagues in cognitive psychology but, as the editors, Margaret Gardiner and Bruce Christie, point out, they are not intended as a comprehensive review but merely to identify key usable research findings.

Handbook of road safety research

After two general introductory chapters from the editors with Nick Hammond and Chris Marshall, Part 2 of the book contains five chapters in which principles for applying in design are derived within different areas of cognitive psychology. The first, an historical perspective by Robert Scane, could probably have sat in the introductory section. The next four are concerned with principles derived from thinking and mental models (Manktelow and Jones), memory (working - Hitch, and episodic and semantic Gardiner), skill acquisition (Hammond), and language (Hampton). A generalised comment on these is that they are informed and informative on their subject areas but, not surprisingly, slightly less consistently successful at identifying design principles. Section 3 contains two chapters intended to pull earlier contributions together "towards application", on guidelines (Marshall, Nelson and Gardiner) and trends (Marshall, Christie and Gardiner). This is a difficult exercise as many authors of guidelines in human factors generally have found previously. Whilst I found the guidelines interesting as a teacher and researcher, I am unsure as to how applicable they actually would be by designers. The book has a concluding chapter on future directions. All in all the book was an interesting read, with those chapters covering areas familiar to the reviewer providing good, if not complete, reviews. Some minor quibbles include a definition of cognitive ergonomics as "fitting the mind to the job" (p 83) - even if this were a useful concept it should surely be "fitting the job to the mind" - but many sound points are made about the usefulness, and current limitations, of applying cognitive psychology and indeed human factors generally to the user interface. Whilst there are some doubts as to the usefulness of the guidelines as presented here (recognised by the editors, it must be said) the book contains useful reviews of a subject matter which can be difficult to write about at a level which can be understood reasonably generally. Notwithstanding the editors' explanations, the inclusion of attentional and


Applied Ergonomics

June 1988

G. Grime

Butterworths: London, 1987, ISBN 0-408-02780-0, pp 149 + vii, £15.00. For anyone who has worked in the road safety field, it will be a pleasure to see a book by Geoffrey Grime. This volume is a compilation from his wide knowledge of accident causation and the impact behaviour of vehicles, drawing considerably on his own lifetime's work for road safety and on the reports published by the Transport and Road Research Laboratory (or Road Research Laboratory, as it was known in the earlier years). It is intended as a reference manual for all involved with road safety, accident investigation and the design of roads and vehicles, bringing together research findings from several sources in Britain, much of which is not widely published and is difficult to find elsewhere. The book is packed with information (although this might prove difficult to search for someone coming new to the field, since the index is not very helpful). The first chapter defines the current accident situation in Britain, and gives statistics of deaths and injuries (with breakdowns by vehicle, type of impact, road class and time, as well as for other environmental factors). Chapters 2 and 3 both emphasise the interactions which always occur between the roles of the road user, vehicle and road design. Chapter 3 outlines the characteristics and involvement of each type of road user-drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians - and finishes with a brief review of the influence of training, public education and enforcement on their behaviour. Chapter 4 discusses the features of road design which influence the risk of accidents, and is intended to assist accident investigators. Further characteristics of roads and vehicles are covered in Chapter 5, including lighting, steering characteristics, road holding and braking performance. Chapter 6 gives the characteristics of the most important types of collision and the resulting damage to the vehicle, while Chapter 7 covers the mechanisms of injury to the occupants and other road users. The design and benefits of various protective devices for car occupants, motorcyclists and pedestrians are then considered. The various themes of the book are drawn together in the final two chapters, which estimate the potential savings which might be expected from different preventive measures and conclude with general remarks on accident investigation. The book will be a valuable guide for anyone starting work in this field, as well as an interesting overview of many years of research into the causes of accidents and prevention of injuries.

Christine Haslegrave

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Applied Ergonomics

June 1988