Over the years, much research has been done to optimize instructional methods in driver training. A number of issues, however, remain unresolved. In the literature we find that there are two main areas of critical factors in safe driving; namely the ability to detect hazards and risks, and the role of self-assessment in driving performance. This paper describes some of the main findings with respect to these two areas. The main focus in this paper, however, is on the relation between the above mentioned critical safety factors. It is assumed here that the essential issue in safe driving is not so much the development of specific skills, but the ability to balance task demands and skills accurately. Drivers have an ongoing dynamic control over several of the determinants of task difficulty. This balancing of demands and capabilities is also known as ‘calibration'. The assumption underlying this paper is that calibration is a core issue in driving. The relevant literature was studied to substantiate this claim. This paper explores theories relating to calibration and investigates whether, and how, to incorporate the issue of calibration in formal driving instruction. The literature thus far supports the thesis that calibration is a core issue in safe driving. Inexperienced drivers show less awareness than experienced drivers of the actual realities of road system operation, and less awareness of their own role. Calibration is conceptualised as not just momentary demand regulation, but also as behavioural regulation on the basis of anticipated events (hazards). It is theorized that the problem with young drivers lies both in the anticipatory realm as well as in momentary demand regulation. Miscalibration can lead for instance to: small safety margins, excessive speed, aggressive driving, short following distances, and the performance of risky manoeuvres etc. Current driver training does not prevent miscalibration, and may even stimulate miscalibration. This is related to the fact that the training does not incorporate enhancing learning conditions for the driver after qualification. For instance, drivers are not taught how to assess the degree to which they have actually mastered certain skills and which skills they still need to develop to what degree. The inherent caution with which novice drivers operate, will partly diminish on account of the fact that they have received formal training. This allows them to think they have acquired all necessary skills, while in fact they have not. A correct calibration of task demands and coping abilities largely depends on the amount of practice and the amount and quality of feedback that a driver receives. It is suggested that driver training should incorporate methods to match self-assessed ability to actual ability. Drivers should learn to actively search for, and use, the feedback that the driving environment provides them with.
Safe driving and the training of calibration
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