Why Study Human Factors? (Alex Arca)

Alex Arca ~ Surface Transportation Lab


” Human Factors is critically important to everyone in how it affects all parts of our lives as it is the key to understanding and improving the interaction between humans and technology. The field of human factors is incredibly diverse in how the field can encompass learning how individuals interact with artificial intelligence to understand how different levels of automation in vehicles can impact drivers, and much more. However, a common tie between any human factors research is how the field strives to understand how to tailor technology to individuals so that their performance will be more efficient, while also taking into account the safety and well being in terms of cognitive and physical effort. This tie can be seen in the realm of driving where  much human factors research in this domain focuses on how distracted driving can impact individuals as well as what ways its hold on individuals can be alleviated. The truth is that technology is invaluable keeping us interconnected and productive, but this technology has its shortcoming in how addictive and attention consuming it can be which is detailed by human factors literature where researchers not only pinpoint how smartphones can impact individuals when driving subjectively, cognitively, and physiologically but also in how to avoid these negative impacts from occurring continuously. Errors when a human is using technology are commonplace and will never go away, but human factors research taps into different ways to improve the technology in terms of usability and effectiveness while also improving the operator of the device in terms of training and expertise. There needs to be improvement from both ends as errors can come from both the user and technology, which is many times disregarded by engineers when creating new technology which is where human factors research comes into save the day. Engineers and human factors specialists work hand in hand to give us the devices and automation we love so much today. With the development and focus today of creating artificial intelligence (AI) to assist our daily lives human factors specialists are needed to understand how much say AI should have in specific tasks as without this research being done critical mistakes can occur endangering lives. This can be seen in the development of self-driving cars, remotely piloted aircrafts, self care robots, and so many more new pieces of technology.  In today’s day an age where new technology comes out everyday, human factors research is needed more than ever to make sure the technology or tool is safe, usable, and effective as most engineers and designers are creating the device to just work without taking these factors into account.”


Key References:

Cabrall, C. D. D., Eriksson, A., Dreger, F., Happee, R., & De Winter, J.. (2019). How to keep drivers engaged while supervising driving automation? A literature survey and categorisation of six solution areas. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science, 20(3), 332–365. https://doi.org/10.1080/1463922x.2018.1528484

Gold, C., Körber, M., Lechner, D., & Bengler, K.. (2016). Taking Over Control From Highly Automated Vehicles in Complex Traffic Situations. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 58(4), 642–652. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018720816634226

Kyriakidis, M., De Winter, J. C. F., Stanton, N., Bellet, T., Van Arem, B., Brookhuis, K., Martens, M. H., Bengler, K., Andersson, J., Merat, N., Reed, N., Flament, M., Hagenzieker, M., & Happee, R.. (2019). A human factors perspective on automated driving. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science, 20(3), 223–249. https://doi.org/10.1080/1463922x.2017.1293187

Mendoza, J. S., Pody, B. C., Lee, S., Kim, M., & Mcdonough, I. M.. (2018). The effect of cellphones on attention and learning: The influences of time, distraction, and nomophobia. Computers in Human Behavior, 86, 52–60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2018.04.027

Stothart, C., Mitchum, A., & Yehnert, C. (2015). The attentional cost of receiving a cell phone notification. Journal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance, 41(4), 893–897. https://doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000100

Thornton, B., Faires, A., Robbins, M., & Rollins, E.. (2014). The Mere Presence of a Cell Phone May be Distracting. Social Psychology, 45(6), 479–488. https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000216