Road safety research

Road safety research

prevent decubitus ulcer in the lumbosacral area. Full details can be obtained from Health Care Products Group, 3M United Kingdom Limited, 3M House, Wi...

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prevent decubitus ulcer in the lumbosacral area. Full details can be obtained from Health Care Products Group, 3M United Kingdom Limited, 3M House, Wigmore Street, London W l A lET.

Aid to noise reduction A vibration damping magnetic mat, which reduces noise intensity during sheet metalworking operations, has been developed by the Production Engineering Research Association. Known as DIN-DAMP, the mat is of laminated fabric construction and is flexible enough to follow the contours of any workpiece surface on which it is placed. It is claimed that DIN-DAMP mats can be applied and removed rapidly, are easily cleaned and are designed to withstand continuous use under workshop conditions. The sheet or plate being worked upon does not have to be completely covered for DIN-DAMP to be effective. Practical trials by the user will indicate the best position of the mat for maximum noise reduction. Mats are made in five sizes ranging from 400 x 2 0 0 m m (153Ain x 7~s i n ) t o 1600 x 800mm (63in x 31½in).

Road safety research Detailed, multi-disciplinary researches into motorway driving behaviour, the nature of accident 'black spots' and the attitudes of drivers to motoring hazards, preventive legislation and legal sanctions are proposed on an international basis by the scientific committee of the International Drivers Behaviour Research Association (IDBRA) as the Association's second major programme of studies. This ambitious new programme will require substantial funding and IDBRA, which is a nongovernmental, non-profit independent body, is seeking to broaden support within its three categories of membership - governmental or nonprofit organisations, commercial and industrial firms, and individual researchers - in order to finance it. The three international studies now proposed for priority institution are drawn from a number of recommendations that emerged from IDBRA's first international conference on driver behaviour, held in Zurich last October. Motorways were selected for a study of driver behaviour with particular reference to varying acceptance of risk, because their features are more nearly internationally uniform than other grades of road,

and because they are likely to absorb an increasing proportion of total traffic. 'Black spots' or 'black' stretches of road with high concentration of accident similarly occur in all countries, and IDBRA hopes that an international analysis and comparison of the characteristics of such places may reveal common elements which could prompt more effective preventive measures. The international study of driver opinions and attitudes seeks to explain the startling differences between accident rates in various countries and to pinpoint differences that may influence accident rates in order to suggest preventive measures that may stand a greater chance of success than those currently employed. Each of the three studies will be carried out by research teams employing identical or compatible techniques in a number of different countries. Conference report The announcement of IDBRA's second programme coincides with the publication of Driver Behaviour, a 75 - page booklet summarising the contributions, conclusions and recommendations of the Associations' Zurich conference. The centrepiece of this conference was the presentation of the results of IDBRA's first research programme, which analysed driver behaviour and accident statistics relating to the overtaking manoeuvre. In addition, the 430 participants, from 33 countries, discussed over 80 papers on such topics as driver perception of the traffic environment, high risk groups and situations, preventive measures covering education and road safbty campaigns as well as sanctions - and the application of different types of research method. Among many recommendations stemming from the meeting are such controversial proposals as relating fines to the violator's income level, as in Sweden, and Sanctions in general more closely to the seriousness of the violation. New ways of diagnosing individual differences in driving capacity are urged as a basis for improved driver training methods, and changes in road, road-signing and vehicle design are recommended to reduce the complexity of the driving situation. The inadequacy of road accident statistics is emphasised, since the development and evaluation of more effective preventive measures will be impossible until standards of reporting accident data are greatly improved. In particular, data on driving and alcohol is extremely

limited. While reliable research evidence exists of the effects of alcohol in reducing performance and increasing the acceptance of risk, many countries have very scant data on the extent to which alcohol is a factor in accidents and no country has adequate information on the extent to which alcohol is used by drivers who are not involved in accidents.

Driver Behaviour is obtainable from IDBRA, 69 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y IEU, for 55p per copy, including postage.

Users still prefer chart recorders The familiar pen-and-paper chart recorder is not going to be replaced by computer-age television screens on industry's control panels for a long time yet. The traditional recording method is threatened by visual display CRTs, but it is standing up well to the challenge. A new report by Sira Institute, European markets for miniature chart recorders, suggests that sales will continue to grow by 5% a year at constant prices through Europe as a whole. Many customers see CRTs rapidly eroding this market, but the authors of the report believe it will be five to ten years before displays greatly affect recorder sales. This is partly because of purchase and operating costs, although the disadvantage of computer display systems here is gradually disappearing. More fundamentally, it is because of the traditional caution of process control industries in adopting any innovation when the cost of plant failure can be very high, combined with the lack of operators trained and experienced in the new techniques. "Some users found it necessary to re-introduce conventional miniature chart recording systems on plant from which they had been theoretically eliminated by CRT displays," claims the report. "This has been done at the request of plant operators unable to adapt to the new display system, especially for monitoring start-up, shut-down and other unstable phases during plant operation".

Factory safety Addressing the 59th session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Mr Harold Walker, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment, said that, in terms of safety at work, the United Kingdom has always been in the forefront of the struggle to ensure a safer and healthier working

Applied Ergonomics December 1974