Driver Segmentation, New Technology and Safety - 4 September 2008
by Pat Jordan
Authors: Jordan, Patrick W. Chen, Fang, Lindgren, Anders
Chalmers University of Technology
Read this article in Chinese (translated by Yusen Dai, proof read by Christina Li)
A segmentation of drivers is presented, based on driving style, behaviours and attitudes. Four main segments are identified and described. The segmentation was complied using the Delphi method and is based on the synthesis of the views of a range of leading experts in the field.
The segmentation is an essential first step in understanding drivers and creating solutions which will enhance driving behaviour and find acceptance among the drivers at who they are targeted.
One approach to enhancing driving safety is Advanced Driver Assistance Systems [ADAS]. These use in-car technology to assist the driver and potentially enhance safety. However, the success of these systems is likely to depend on drivers’ acceptance of them and this may vary from segment to segment.
Driver segmentation, driving, driving safety, new technology in cars
Statistics show that there are a wide variety of different types of accidents and a variety of behavioural causes. These reflect drivers’ attitudes towards driving and the approaches and behaviours that they bring to the road (Lancaster and Ward 2002).
This paper reports a study in which drivers were segmented according to attitudes and behaviours. The approach was based on a technique known as the Delphi method (Linstone and Turoff 1975) This involves interviewing experts in a particular field – in this case driving and driver behaviour – and coming to a conclusion based on the common ground between them.
In this case representatives of the following institutions were interviewed: Institute of Advanced Motorists, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Transport Research Laboratory, Brunel University, Chalmers University, Driving Standards Authority, Driving Instructors’ Association.
The outcome was the segmentation described below. This doesn’t necessarily represent the views of any of the organisations listed above, but rather a composite of their views based on the professional judgement of the author.
Drivers were largely defined by their attitudes towards speed and their attitudes towards safety. These two dimensions formed the primary variables for the segmentation and drivers positioning on these dimensions was broadly predictive of not only their attitudes, but also their driving behaviour.
A range of secondary variables associated with each of the segments was also identified. These included:
- Demographics: age, gender, socio-economic status etc.
- Accidents: the frequency with which drivers were likely to have accidents as well as the nature and causes of the accident.
- Examples of Behaviour: the way that drivers behave when they are on the road. This includes the risks that they may take and their attitudes and behaviour towards other road users.
- Enjoyment of Driving: is driving something they enjoy, is it a chore or is it something they actively fear?
- Distances: the average mileage covered per year.
- Type and Purpose of Journey: the reason that people make journeys and the characteristics of their journeys in terms of road type etc.
- Car Type: the types of car that people in each of the segments are most likely to drive.
Four segments were identified as follows:
This segment loves speed and gives little thought to safety. Their characteristics are as follows.
- Love Speed. Enjoy speed and sometimes show off to others by driving fast.
- Unaware of Risks. Many in this group are inexperienced drivers who are unaware of the risks which driving holds. They may have the feeling that they are invincible.
- Aggressive. They can be aggressive towards more cautious drivers who get in their way.
- Poor Hazard Perception. Again this is due to inexperience. Evidence still suggests that hazard awareness is comparatively poor in new drivers.
- Speed Violations. May in this segment consistently drive above the speed limit.
- Follow too Closely. Following too closely is a major safety hazard with this segment.
- High Accident Rate. This segment is by far the most prone to accidents, with an accident rate out of all proportion to the size of the segment.
- Overestimate Ability. Drivers in this segment are likely to overestimate their ability. They think that because they are young and have good reaction times that they are safe, but this is more than offset by the lack of perception and judgement.
- Younger, (< 25). Most of this segment are aged under 25 years old and have, at the most, only a few years of driving experience.
- Male + +. Although some women do fall into this segment it is very predominantly male.
- Lower Mileage. This group has a comparatively low annual mileage.
- Urban, A-Roads. A high proportion of their driving is to and from leisure activities and much of it is also just for the fun of driving.
- Enjoy Driving. As well as finding driving exciting it is, for many of them, a rite of passage. Driving is also a social activity for some and they may enjoy driving their friends around or talking about cars and driving with their friends.
- Super-mini, Small Family, Pre-owned, Modifications. This segment most commonly drives small cars – in the majority of cases these will be pre-owned. Some have also modified their vehicles, adding power and fitting loud exhaust pipes.
- Best: ‘Youthful Exuberance’. The majority of people in this category can best be described as displaying ‘youthful exuberance’ which they will grow out of as they get older.
- Worst: ‘Dangerous Sociopath’. Some drivers in this group can be an extreme danger to themselves and others displaying a recklessness that endangers themselves and other road users. Some may be killed or kill others before they grow out of being in this segment.
The people in this segment also like to drive fast but this is tempered with a concern for safety. Most of them have also got considerable driving experience and many are highly skilled drivers.
- Enjoy Speed. This segment enjoys speed, but is actually more focussed on making progress than on the speed itself. They want to reach their destination quickly.
- Drive Purposefully. They are decisive and progressive drivers. They have confidence in their decision making and driving ability and do not dither over driving decisions.
- May be Aggressive. Some in this segment may be intolerant of other drivers and be inclined to remonstrate with or intimidate drivers who they feel have got in their way or are driving poorly. In particular they can get irritated with those who drive slowly.
- Underestimate Danger. They may underestimate the dangers associated with fast or aggressive driving.
- Possible Speed Violations. Their desire to make rapid progress can sometimes lead to them driving in excess of the speed limits.
- May Follow too Closely. A common characteristic of drivers in this segment is a tendency to follow too closely behind the vehicle in front.
- Higher than Average Accident Rate. This segment has a higher than average accident rate. Speed violations and aggressive driving can be contributory factors in some cases.
- Overestimate Ability. Most in this segment regard themselves as a better driver than average. However, accident statistics would suggest that the segment as a whole is not.
- Wide Age Range (25 – 65). This segment covers a wide age range and is fairly evenly spread over this range.
- Male +. There are more men than women in this segment, although the gender skew is far less than in the Reckless Drivers segment.
- Higher Mileage. This is the segment that does the highest annual mileage. A significant proportion of the segment have to drive as part of their jobs, for example to see clients.
- Motorways, A-Roads, B-Roads, Urban. They drive on all types of road and are the segment who do the most motorway miles.
- Generally Enjoy Driving – Pride in Driving, Pride in Car, Talking Point. Although they can get frustrated with the hold-ups and congestion on the roads many in this segment get enjoyment from driving and take a pride in their car and their driving.
- Family, Compact Executive, Executive. Many will buy their cars new or at least nearly new. For many, their car is somewhat of a status symbol.
- Best: ‘Knight of the Road’. At their best drivers in this segment can be ‘knights of the road – courteous, progressive, efficient and considerate.
- Worst: ‘Road Hog’. At worst they can be ‘road hogs’ displaying discourteous, impatient and even bullying behaviour.
This group puts safety first and also do their best to comply with traffic laws. This doesn’t necessarily mean they drive slowly – many in the segment will drive up to the speed limit. However it is safety rather than speed that is the first priority.
- Safety Conscious. This segment has safety as their top priority, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that they drive slowly.
- Aware of Risks. They have a realistic understanding of the risks associated with driving.
- Not Aggressive. They rarely show aggression and are generally courteous.
- Good Hazard Awareness. They are a group who learn as they gain experience and have a good understanding and awareness of hazards.
- Obey Traffic Laws. They take care to drive within the law and try to avoid violations.
- Follow at Sensible Distance. This segment appreciates the dangers involved in tailgating and will generally follow at a safe distance from the car in front.
- Low Accident Rate. Diligent Drivers have the lowest accident rate of all the segments.
- Occasional Misjudgements. When an accident does occur it is most often the result of a misjudgement rather than a violation or aggressive behaviour.
- Wide Age Range (25 – 65). Like the Progressive Drivers this group span a wide age range and are fairly evenly distributed across it.
- Female +. There are more women than men in this group. The skew is approximately the inverse of the Progressive Drivers segment.
- Average Mileage. They are about average when it comes to mileage – more than Reckless Drivers and Cautious Drivers, but less than Progressive Drivers.
- A-Roads, B-Roads, Urban. Drive on a variety of roads but do less motorway driving than the Progressive Drivers. Many of their miles are done with their children in the car.
- Utilitarian View of Driving – Facilitating Life Activities, Safety, Efficiency. Driving is a means to an end for this group. It is not something which they necessarily like or dislike.
- Supermini, Family, MPV, SUV. Most are not particularly interested in cars and will pick a vehicle for its practical qualities rather than its performance, image or status.
- Best: ‘Efficient and Courteous’. The best drivers in this segment are efficient, courteous and look out for their own safety and that of other road-users.
- Worst: ‘Selfish and Inconsiderate’. At their worst they look out for their own safety, but can be selfish and have little regard for the safety and convenience of others.
Many in this segment dislike driving and will only do it if they have to. Safety is the top priority and some may drive rather slowly. Sometimes their over-caution can lead to danger.
- Cautious and Nervous. The drivers in this segment have a cautious attitude towards driving, in some cases to the point of being nervous.
- Perceive Driving as Risky. They are aware of the dangers associated with driving. In some cases they may have an exaggerated perception of these.
- Drive Cautiously. They tend to be very cautious drivers. Sometimes this is safer but at other times over-cautiousness can lead to dangerous indecisiveness.
- Variable Hazard Awareness. They are conscious of the need to be aware of hazards, however they are not always adept at spotting them.
- Obey Traffic Laws. Drivers in this segment generally have respect for the law. They regard the traffic laws as being for their own safety and the safety of others.
- Follow at Sensible Distance. They do not tailgate or show aggression towards others.
- Moderate Accident Rate. Drivers in this group may have accidents from time to time.
- Concentration and Judgement Lapses. Lapses in judgement and concentration tend to be the main source of accidents caused by drivers in this segment.
- Older, (< 65). The average age of this segment is higher than that of any of the others, although by no means all of the drivers in this segment are over 65.
- Female +. There is also a slight skew towards female drivers in this segment.
- Lower Mileage. This segment does a lower average mileage than average.
- Urban, A-Roads, B-Roads. Most of their journeys are relatively short local trips.
- Dislike Driving – Stressful, No Interest. Because driving can be stressful for them they take little pleasure in it and find it to be of little or no interest.
- Super-mini, Small Family. They tend to see cars simply as a means of getting from A to B. Good value for money and reliability will be their priorities when selecting a car.
- Best: ‘Slow but Methodical’. At their best drivers in this segment drive in a thorough and methodical manner, even if they may be somewhat slower than average.
- Worst: ‘Irritating Ditherer’. At worst they can be indecisive causing inconvenience and possibly even danger to other road users.
DRIVER ASSISTANCE TECHNOLOGY
With the rapid development of in-vehicle technology has come the potential for the design and implementation of systems which assist the driver and potentially enhance driving safety.
Some examples are described below:
- Lane Departure Warning. This detects if you are drifting out of your lane or off the road and warns you so that you can take corrective action.
- Blind Spot Detection. This detects whether there is anything in your blind spot and lets you see what is there.
- Lane Change Assistance. This detects traffic in other lanes and warns you if you try to change lanes when it is unsafe to do so.
- Adaptive Cruise Control. This detects the distance to the vehicle ahead and keeps your vehicle a safe distance from the car in front.
- Traffic Jam Assist/Stop and Go. This keeps your vehicle a set distance from the car in front when in jams and slow moving congested traffic. It automatically makes the vehicle stop when the traffic stops moving and go when it starts moving again.
- Curve Management. This system detects when the vehicle is approaching a bend and automatically reduces your speed if you are approaching it too fast.
- Forward Collision Warning. This detects cars and obstacles in your vehicle’s path and warns you if you are in imminent danger of a collision.
- Electronic Brake Assist. This interprets a quick depression of the pedal as emergency braking and adds braking power if the driver has not stepped hard enough on the brake pedal.
- Forward Crash Mitigation. This system activates if the car is about to crash giving a warning, applying maximum brake force and pre-tensioning the seatbelts to reduce the severity of a crash.
- Traffic Sign Recognition. This system can read road signs and shows the current speed limit on the display panel.
- Back-Up Monitor. An image from a rear-facing camera is displayed on a screen enabling the driver to see what is behind them when reversing.
- Driver Vigilance Monitoring. This system monitors the driver and their performance and warns if they appear to be becoming tired or if the quality of their driving is deteriorating.
- Intelligent Speed Adaptation. This function controls the speed of the car based either on speed limits or on input from the driver.
- Intersection Collision Avoidance. This provides the driver with a warning if there is a potential collision risk at an intersection.
- Smart Highways/Autonomous Driving. This system takes over control of the vehicle when it enters a highway enabling safe and efficient travel with minimal input from drivers.
- Curve Management. This system works out whether the vehicle is going too fast when approaching a dangerous bend and automatically reduces the speed if necessary.
- Night Vision. Infrared lights are used to illuminate the path in front of the vehicle and enhanced images of the road ahead are displayed via a screen on the dashboard.
- Road Surface/Low Friction Warning. These inform the driver if there are irregularities in the road surface or if the surface is worn and lacks grip.
- Tire Pressure Warning. This system monitors the air pressure in the tires and informs the driver if it becomes dangerously low.
An important point to note is that at this stage the segmentation has yet to be validated statistically. Work on this is currently in progress. However, for now, they offer a good overview of driving attitudes and behaviours and help to make sense of the issues associated with different drivers.
The segments are not equal in terms of the levels of road safety associated with each. Diligent Drivers appear to be the safest segment, suggesting that there may be significant road safety benefits in persuading other drivers to mimic or adapt their driving behaviours.
Public information programs, legislation, law enforcement and training are potential routes to achieving this, as are the opportunities afforded by new in-car safety technologies. These include systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control that keep the car a safe distance from the vehicle ahead; Electronic Brake Assist which takes over control of the brakes from the driver in the event of an emergency; and various other systems which can make driving safer and less stressful.
However, the effectiveness of any attempts to improve driving safety are likely to be highly dependent on gaining the acceptance of the drivers at which they are aimed. Evidence suggests that many drivers do not learn from their mistakes and that those with a high accident rate are the least likely to see the value of driving more safely (Home Office 1997).
Tailoring messages and technologies to gain the acceptance and change the behaviour of high-risk groups is a major challenge for those working in this field. Understanding the characteristics of the segments is an essential first step in meeting that challenge.
- Home Office, 1997, Roadcraft: The Police Drivers Handbook (Stationary Office Books)
- Linstone, H.A. and Turoff, M., 1975, The Delphi Method (Addison-Wesley)
- Lancaster, R. and Ward, R., 2002, The Contribution of Individual Factors to Driving Behaviour (Health and Safety Executive, Research Report 020)
Dr. Patrick W. Jordan is an international design and marketing consultant, author and professional speaker. His methods and ideas have influenced the design of many of the products that we find in our homes, cities and workplaces.
Pat is Owner and CEO of the Contemporary Trends Institute [CTI], an international trends and branding consultancy. Clients of CTI include multinational companies from many different industry sectors, including: aerospace, consumer goods, computers and IT, consumer electronics, medical, telecommunications, food and beverage, leisure and retail.
Dr. Jordan has been invited to lecture at conferences and seminars all over the world. He has over 100 publications in peer reviewed journals, books and conference proceedings. He has written or edited 6 books, five of which have reached # 1 in the Amazon.com category bestsellers lists, and is currently the world's best selling author in his field. His books include Designing Pleasurable Products (Taylor and Francis 2000). This has become a standard design and marketing text within both industry and academia.
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