A systems perspective on road user error in Australia: Swiss cheese and the road transport system
Within complex socio-technical systems human error has consistently been implicated as the major causal factor in a high proportion of accidents and safety compromising incidents. For example, recent research within the road transport domain indicates that driver error contributes to as much as 75% of all roadway crashes. This article describes the work conducted to date as part of a research program of which the main aim is to promote error tolerant intersections in Victoria and an error tolerant road transport system in Australia. Based on a review of the human error-related research conducted to date and of the error management techniques that have previously been employed in complex sociotechnical systems, a conceptual framework for an error tolerant Australian road transport system is proposed. The proposed framework contains appropriate methods for the collection and analysis of human error-related data within the Australian road transport system, and a number of error management approaches and strategies that could potentially be used to reduce or manage road user error and the conditions that lead to it. It is the opinion of the authors that the implementation of the framework will considerably increase our knowledge of road user error and the conditions that cause it, and could potentially enhance error tolerance and road user safety within the Australian road transport system.