Complex cognitive interactions in a badly designed world: investigating the underlying causes of collisions between distinct road users
Collisions between distinct road users (e.g. drivers and riders, drivers and cyclists) make a substantial contribution to the road trauma burden. Although evidence suggests different road users interpret the same road situations contrarily, it is not clear how their situation awareness differs, nor is it clear which differences might lead to conflicts. This article presents the findings from an on-road study which was conducted to examine driver, cyclist and motorcyclist situation awareness in different road environments. The findings suggest that drivers, motorcyclists, and cyclists develop markedly different situational understandings even when operating in the same road environments. Examination of these differences indicate that they are likely to be compatible along arterial roads, shopping strips and at roundabouts, but that they may create conflicts between the different road users at intersections. The key role of road design in supporting compatible situation awareness and behaviour across different road users is discussed.