Vredenburgh & Associates, Inc.

Human Factors, Ergonomics, Safety,
Organizational & Biomechanics Consulting

Research

Transportation Safety

 

Brill, J.C., Bliss, J.P., Hancock, P.A., Manzey, D., Meyer, J., & Vredenburgh, A. (2016). Matters of Ethics, Trust, and Potential Liability for Autonomous Systems. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2016 Annual Meeting, Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 308-312.

The objective of this panel was to discuss issues related to the development and use of autonomous systems, with specific focus on the overriding themes of ethical considerations and potential liability for Human Factors and Ergonomics (HF/E) professionals who are involved in their development. Chris Brill provided opening remarks to frame the discussion and introduce the panelists. James Bliss discussed legal implications related to our collective penchant for developing conservative, false-alarm prone automation. Peter Hancock advocated for human-centered constraints on autonomous systems, as they may, one day, pose an existential threat to humanity. Dietrich Manzey discussed ethical considerations for autonomous systems, including how design can encourage ethical user behavior. Joachim Meyer argued that HF/E professionals have an obligation to help designers understand the ethical implications of poor design, particularly in the context of autonomous systems. Lastly, Alison Vredenburgh provided thoughts on potential liability for HF/E professionals, particularly in light of the relative newness of autonomous systems. The panel then turned to facilitated discussion with panelists and audience members. Specific themes included the boundaries of our responsibilities as HF/E professionals for ill-conceived or morally-objectionable systems, potential implications of manipulating user trust through design, cross-cultural perspectives on public acceptance and legal peril, and how concerns might differ by domain (e.g., medical vs. combat vs. manufacturing). The session concluded with panelists summarizing how ethics influence design and recommendations for how HF/E professionals can potentially protect themselves from legal liability for mishaps involving autonomous systems they helped develop.

Vredenburgh, A.N., Zackowitz, I.B. & Vredenburgh, A.G. (2015). Air Rage: What factors Influence Airline Passenger Anger? Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 59th Annual Meeting, Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 59:400-404.

Aggressive passengers have forced airlines to divert flights and make unscheduled landings. There have been legal consequences, both in criminal and civil courts, as well as financial costs when airplanes are forced to redirect a flight, or to provide vouchers to resolve complaints. This study investigates the extent to which current airline irritants contribute to passenger anger, which may cause conflict, redirected flights and legal ramifications. 245 passengers were questioned regarding their experience flying over the last two years and how factors including smell, noise, seat size, hunger, and unwanted touch affected their mood. These factors can all be considered an assault on the senses of passengers that would not occur in any other environment. Results indicate that confinement and physical discomfort of having strangers encroach into personal space made people most likely to be angry and take action against fellow passengers. Noise and hunger made them angry, but not take action, thus creating the potential for conflict. These human factors have implications for passenger safety, civil rights and airline operations.

Vredenburgh, A.N., Zackowitz, I.B., & Vredenburgh, A.G. (in press). Air Rage: What Factors Influence airline passenger anger? Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 59th Annual Meeting, Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

Aggressive passengers have forced airlines to divert flights and make unscheduled landings. There have been legal consequences, both in criminal and civil courts, as well as financial costs when airplanes are forced to redirect a flight, or to provide vouchers to resolve complaints. This study investigates the extent to which current airline irritants contribute to passenger anger, which may cause conflict, redirected flights and legal ramifications. 245 passengers were questioned regarding their experience flying over the last two years and how factors including smell, noise, seat size, hunger, and unwanted touch affected their mood. These factors can all be considered an assault on the senses of passengers that would not occur in any other environment. Results indicate that confinement and physical discomfort of having strangers encroach into personal space made people most likely to be angry and take action against fellow passengers. Noise and hunger made them angry, but not take action, thus creating the potential for conflict. These human factors have implications for passenger safety, civil rights and airline operations.

Vredenburgh, A.G., & Vanderpol, E. (2014). Case Study: A Novice Unlicensed Child Operator of a Motorized Dirt Bike Versus an Ambulance Driver. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 58th Annual Meeting, Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 58:554-558.

While most motor vehicle operators must obtain a driver’s license, which requires training and a test, child operators of motorized dirt bikes can use these vehicles without any training or experience. In this case, a 10-year-old boy was riding a dirt bike in the desert for the first time. The area where he was riding had desert-like sand and dune conditions on both sides of a 2-lane highway. The boy received some oral instructions from a family friend, and then spent a few hours riding in the dirt. Towards the end of the day, an off-duty ambulance was driving down the highway. The child stopped at the side of the road, looked towards the ambulance, which was the only vehicle on the road in either direction, and then proceeded to cross, clearing the roadway. The ambulance driver panicked, left the road and struck the dirt bike 30 feet off the side of the road in the dirt. The boy suffered a traumatic brain injury with permanent brain damage. Human factors issues from both motor vehicle operators’ perspectives will be discussed.

Vredenburgh, A.G., & Zackowitz, I.B. (2011). Research in Motion: A Case Study Evaluating the Accessibility of Public Transit in our Nation’s Capital. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 55th Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 584-588.

Although the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed by Congress two decades ago, there are still public facilities that have a long way to go in order to meet the goal of being "barrier-free." Unfortunately, some of these places include public transportation systems that many people with disabilities rely on daily. During a recent consulting job regarding accessibility and environmental design, we decided to put the public Metro system in Washington, DC to the test. We wanted to determine how easy it is to access and use the system for people who rely on wheelchairs. We were surprised that this case study revealed serious and multiple barriers to accessibility. We learned that many human factors issues regarding accessible design were not achieved by this system, even at a modest level.

Noy, I., Vredenburgh, A., Hornick, R., Mortimer, R., Olsen, R., Thompson, D., Ryan, P., Savaglio, B., & Spangler, J. (2000). Mock Trial: Human factors contributions to litigation involving adaptive cruise control. In Proceedings of the XIVth Triennial Congress of the International Ergonomics Association and 44th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 6-398 – 6-401.

A mock trial format will be used to explore some fundamental human factors issues associated with advanced cruise control systems such as have been introduced in Europe and Japan and are expected to be introduced into the North American market this year. The plaintiff in this case, the driver of a vehicle equipped with ACC, is seeking damages from the defendant, the manufacturer of the vehicle, for inappropriate design of the ACC that she alleges contributed to a motor vehicle collision in which she was involved. The underlying issue concerns the hand-over of control from the vehicle to the driver under conditions of partially automated driving. The mock trial will demonstrate the role of human factors expertise in the judicial process. Participants will include experienced human factors professionals and practicing attorneys. Commentators will highlight key issues during the proceedings. No judgment will be rendered at the conclusion. However, delegates will be surveyed to determine how human factors expert opinions may have influenced them and which arguments were most compelling.

Vredenburgh, A.G., & Zackowitz, I.B. (1998). Older drivers: A forensic human factors analysis. (Summary) In Proceedings of the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Colorado Springs, CO: American Academy of Forensic Sciences, 91-92.

Vredenburgh, A.G., Andressen, B., & Cohen, H.H. (1996). The development and testing of a device to enhance motorcycle conspicuity and reduce accident. In Proceedings of the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Nashville, TN, 74.

Vredenburgh, A.G., & Plourd, S. (1996). The development of a time-distance factor for car accident reconstruction. In Proceedings of the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Nashville, TN, 73-74.

Vredenburgh, A.G., & Cohen, H.H. (1995). Enhanced motorcycle conspicuity through daytime use of the Motorcycle Conspicuity Enhancement System (MCES). In Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, (2), 1048-1052.

Vredenburgh, A.G., Plourd, S., Saifer, A.G., & Cohen, H.H. (1994). Collision Causation: Time attention is directed away from traffic in front of vehicle while preparing for a lane change. In Proceedings of the 12th Triennial Congress of the International Ergonomics Association Congress, Vol. 6. Toronto: Human Factors Association of Canada, 252-254.