Road safety researcher wins national award

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Road safety researcher wins national award


24 November 2014

A USC expert in young novice driver road safety has won a highly-competitive national award worth almost $310,000 over four years.

Dr Bridie Scott-Parker was one of 125 people, chosen from 558 applications from tertiary institutions across Australia, to gain a prestigious Early Career Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Dr Scott-Parker, a USC Research Fellow, said she was pleased the award recognised the significance of her current project, ‘Emotions, situation awareness and the risky driving behaviour of young novice drivers’.

“This will assist me as I continue working on a ‘safe systems’ approach to young driver road safety, with a particular focus on the development of drivers from their pre-licence period through Learner’s and Provisional phases,” she said.

Dr Scott-Parker said her work would benefit not only young drivers, but everyone using the roads.

“My research has revealed the importance of emotions like anxiety, depression and sensation-seeking,” she said.

“Young drivers who experience strong emotions can be risky drivers as they may not take steps to protect themselves in a crash (such as not wearing a seatbelt) and they may take more risks on the road, such as driving well in excess of speed limits.

“This project will allow me to further explore the mechanisms underlying emotions and how young drivers perceive their driving environment.”

Dr Scott-Parker said her goal was to develop a simulator-based intervention, where young drivers would be trained in a virtual environment in USC’s Immerse laboratory and their real driving behaviour then monitored via a device inside their vehicle.

“We want to teach young drivers how to handle their emotions so these emotions don’t negatively influence the way they drive,” she said.

USC Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Roland De Marco said the NHMRC award was an outstanding outcome for a “prodigious talent”.

“This will enable Bridie to continue to deliver outstanding research outcomes at USC. It is a testimony of the high international standing of her work and her status as a world leading researcher in the field,” Professor De Marco said.

— Julie Schomberg

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