Dr Vanessa Beanland

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Dr Vanessa Beanland


Teaching areas

  • Psychology
  • Human Factors

Research areas

  • human factors and ergonomics
  • cognitive psychology
  • visual attention
  • driver distraction and inattention
  • road user behaviour
  • transportation safety
  • human–machine interface design


Dr Vanessa Beanland is a USC Research Fellow in the Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems in the Faculty of Arts, Business and Law at the University of the Sunshine Coast. She currently holds a prestigious Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award and has more than eight years’ research experience encompassing two broad areas: visual cognition and human factors in transport.

Vanessa’s primary research interest is understanding how individuals detect and use informational cues in their visual environment. Some examples include examining how drivers detect potential hazards, or what information pedestrians use when deciding whether it is safe to cross an intersection.

An overarching aim of Vanessa’s current research is to understand the mechanisms that differentiate successful versus unsuccessful detection of targets and identifying strategies that can minimise performance errors without compromising search efficiency. This research employs diverse methods, from highly-controlled lab experiments using abstract geometric shapes as stimuli, to studies of driver attention in simulators and instrumented vehicles.

In addition to this primary work on road users’ visual information processing, Vanessa has also conducted research on a range of other road safety issues including driver training and motorcycle safety.

You can also follow Vanessa at:

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Professor memberships

  • Australasian College of Road Safety


  • Emerging Media Talent Award, ANU Media and Outreach Awards, 2015
  • Australian Capital Territory Young Tall Poppy Science Award, 2015

  • ANU Colleges of Science Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning by an Early Career Academic, 2014

  • Best Paper Award, Australian Aviation Psychology Association Symposium, 2014

  • Alfred Deakin Medal, Vice Chancellor’s Prize for outstanding academic achievement, Deakin University, 2005


Selected research publications of Vanessa's include:

  • Beanland, V., Fitzharris, M., Young, K. L., & Lenné, M. G. (2013). Driver inattention and driver distraction in serious casualty crashes: Data from the Australian National Crash In-depth Study. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 54, 99-107. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2012.12.043
  • Beanland, V., Goode, N., Salmon, P. M., & Lenné, M. G. (2013). Is there a case for driver training? A review of the efficacy of pre- and post-licence driver training. Safety Science, 51(1), 127-137. doi: 10.1016/j.ssci.2012.06.021
  • Beanland, V., & Pammer, K. (2010). Looking without seeing or seeing without looking? Eye movements in sustained inattentional blindness. Vision Research, 50(10), 977-988. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2010.02.024
  • Beanland, V., Allen, R. A., & Pammer, K. (2011). Attending to music decreases inattentional blindness. Consciousness and Cognition, 20(4), 1282-1292. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2011.04.009

Potential research projects for HDR and Honours students

  • visual search in real-world contexts

  • inattentional blindness

  • driver distraction and inattention

  • road user behaviour and decision-making

  • vulnerable road users (e.g., motorcycle safety, pedestrian safety)

  • transportation safety

  • automated vehicles

Research grants

Grant/Project name


Funding body and A$ value


Driving as a model for investigating and improving visual search abilities

Vanessa Beanland

Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (A$360,000)


Effects of sleep loss on change detection while driving

Vanessa Beanland, Ashleigh Filtness

NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust Grant Program (A$51,814.36)


Attention and hazard perception while driving: how experts see the scene

Kristen Pammer, Jason Bell, Vanessa Beanland, Mark Symmons, Linda Cooke, Karen Smith, Carol Brook

Australian Research Council Linkage Project (A$302,982)


Proof of concept investigation into time of day effects on attentional blink

Ashleigh Filtness, Jeremy Davey, Vanessa Beanland

Queensland University of Technology Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation


Review of the feasibility of obtaining data on the role of driver distraction in crashes using the ANCIS study

Michael Fitzharris, Vanessa Beanland, Michael Lenné



Industry attitudes and perceptions regarding the operational pilot of electronic work diaries

Christina Rudin-Brown, Vanessa Beanland

Roads and Traffic Authority NSW


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