Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Driving Assessment Conference

7th International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driver Assessment, Training and Vehicle Design

Bolton Landing, New York
June 17-20, 2013  
The Sagamore Resort on Lake George
This symposium is focused on providing an interdisciplinary forum for scientific exchange between users of driving assessment tools, applications and technology. Attendees will include researchers and practitioners working on applications of driving assessment from the perspective of engineering, psychology, medicine, and public health.

For more information, please visit:

Request for papers--Ergonomics in Design

Ergonomics in Design (EID) is planning a special issue on human factors/ergonomics solutions to global warming and climate change. EID is soliciting article contributions to this special issue on any topic related to how human factors/ergonomics principles and practices have been applied, or are being applied, in efforts to address global warming and climate change. Articles should show how critical the science of human factors was for the project or research, provide useful information to practitioners, and show how the results of the project or research addresses the problem of global warming and climate change. Information for how to submit articles is below.

Pascala and Socolow (2004, Stabilization wedges: Solving the climate problem for the next 50 years with current technologies. Science, 305 (5686), 968-972.) proposed that the fundamental scientific, technical and industrial solutions to global warming and climate change were already available, and, if implemented immediately, would be sufficient to limit atmospheric CO2 to a concentration that would prevent the most damaging climate change. The authors provided a list of current technology options for stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions over the next 50 years, including:
• Improved fuel economy
• Reduced reliance on cars
• Ending deforestation
• More efficient buildings
• Improved power plant efficiency
• Decarbonization of electricity and fuels
• Substitution of natural gas for coal
• Carbon capture and storage
• Nuclear fission
• Wind electricity
• Photovoltaic electricity
• Biofuels

The special issue of Ergonomics in Design will highlight the wide range of areas in which HF/E specialists have contributed knowledge and expertise to include design of the new technology, such as smart homes and green buildings; design of tasks, jobs and systems needed to implement and expand the new technology; and design of ways to help change decision-making and behavior needed to recognize and comprehend the need for immediate action to avert the long-term consequences of climate change.

We would like submissions by April 8, 2013. Length would be a maximum of 3000 words for long feature articles and a maximum of 1500 words for short feature articles. The author[s] of each accepted article will be notified in May 2013, and the revisions will be finalized by December 2, 2013. The special issue is scheduled for publication in Spring 2014, and will feature a selection of the accepted articles, with the remainder published in later issues.

To further encourage your interest to contribute, Ergonomics in Design is sent to an international audience consisting of the members of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, members of scientific organizations with an interest in the human factors field, and professionals working in industry and government agencies. In addition, this special issue will be promoted to government and other organizations with decision-making responsibilities related to global warming policies. Your article will reach a large and diverse readership in an attractive, well-respected, peer-reviewed publication.

You can find instructions for authors, publication policies, and sample articles at:

You can submit your article to the EID online submission site:

If you have any questions, you can contact Ken Nemire at

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Anthony McDonald Takes Top Honors at HFES 2012 Annual Meeting

STTG member Anthony McDonald received dual honors at the 2012 HFES annual meeting for his lead role in the paper titled “Real-Time Detection of Drowsiness Related Lane Departures Using Steering Wheel Angle.” After being named Best Student Paper by the Surface Transportation Technical Group, the article also won the Alphonse Chapanis award, the top honor for student-authored submissions to the conference. The paper’s co-authors are Chris Schwarz, John Lee, and Timothy Brown. An abstract is included below.

Tony is a graduate student in the School of Industrial & Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. You can learn more about him at his website,

Real-Time Detection of Drowsiness Related Lane Departures
Using Steering Wheel Angle

Anthony D. McDonald (1), Chris Schwarz (2), John D. Lee (1), Timothy L. Brown (2)
(1) University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA
(2) National Advanced Driving Simulator, Iowa City, IA, USA

Drowsy driving is a significant factor in many motor vehicle crashes in the United States and across the world. Efforts to reduce these crashes have developed numerous algorithms to detect both acute and chronic drowsiness. These algorithms employ behavioral and physiological data, and have used different machine learning techniques. This work proposes a new approach for detecting drowsiness related lane departures, which uses unfiltered steering wheel angle data and a random forest algorithm. Using a data set from the National Advanced Driving Simulator the algorithm was compared with a commonly used algorithm, PERCLOS and a simpler algorithm constructed from distribution parameters. The random forest algorithm had higher accuracy and Area Under the receiver operating characteristic Curve (AUC) than PERCLOS and had comparable positive predictive value. The results show that steering-angle can be used to predict drowsiness related lane-departures six seconds before they occur, and suggest that the random forest algorithm, when paired with an alert system, could significantly reduce vehicle crashes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Job Opening at Battelle

Battelle’s Center for Human Performance & Safety (CHPS) is currently seeking a Research Scientist to join their team in Seattle, Washington.  CHPS human factors staff provide a human-centered approach to the development and evaluation of programs, systems, and products. The human factors researchers at Battelle combine human factors tools and techniques with behavioral science, computer science, and engineering expertise to address the needs and requirements of users, operators, and maintainers. Clients include both government and industry organizations in the transportation, energy, and national security domains.

Human Factors Research Scientists work with our technical staff to conduct human factors research with general direction, but limited supervision. Primary activities include literature searches and reviews, field data collection and analysis, laboratory data collection and analysis, and execution of human factors analyses based upon available data.

To apply, please visit  the online posting.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Driving Research at Harvard Medical School

Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School, has an IMMEDIATE opening for a postdoctoral fellow to work with Dr Gang Luo in the Mobility and Vision Rehabilitation Center. The available position is to assist in a NIH funded project of driving behaviors of visually impaired people. Natural driving activities of participants in the real world will be collected over a long period of time using a novel in-car recording system developed in Dr. Luo's lab, and the vast amount of data will be analyzed using computerized programs. The research projects also include studies in the state-of-art driving simulator. Results will help understand the safety of driving by visually impaired, which is currently permitted in more than 40 US states.

The ideal candidate will have completed their PhD, and have a strong background in driving research. Computer programming or electronic hardware skill would be advantageous. Ability to work independently is important.

Applications should be sent by email to Dana Bento at of Human Resources at Schepens. Please include a CV, the expected date of availability, and contact information for at least 2 referees.

Please complete the voluntary self-identification form:

The Institute is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

Schepens Eye Research Institute
20 Staniford Street
Boston, MA 02114
United States

Monday, September 17, 2012

Get Involved with Voluntary Standards

by Carol Pollack-Nelson

Each year, HFES recognizes a person for outstanding contributions to human factors aspects in the broad area of safety. It is a tradition of the Surface Transportation Technical Group to invite the winner to submit a column for the newsletter. The 2011 recipient of the A. R. Lauer Safety Award and author of this year’s Lauer Letter is Carol Pollack-Nelson, principal of Independent Safety Consulting in Rockville, Maryland. Read more about her work in the HFES Bulletin.

Today I read about a “near-miss” experienced by Mike and Carrie Krug, parents of 2-year-old triplets (, 2012). The Krugs live in a home with an in-ground swimming pool. Understandably, they were concerned about the drowning risk it presented to their three toddlers. To address their concern, these parents spent $2,300 to have a “safety net” installed over their pool. “The salesperson told me that if our children got out on the net they would never get wet,” Mike Krug said in the article. “They would just be out suspended on the net and you could retrieve them that way.”

Once the net was installed in their home, it didn’t take long for the Krugs to learn that, in fact, the net does not prevent drowning. One of their children went face-down into the net and into the water. Mr. Krug observed his child was “completely in the water.” Fortunately, he was able to reach down and grab his son. When the Krugs tried to return the pool net, the company refused, insisting that the product complies with the code for pool safety covers issued by ASTM.  As reported in the article, Mr. Krug stated: “I said I wanted my money back because that's not up to my standards and your salesperson never told me about these standards.”

The limitations of voluntary standards for consumer products is an issue that I have written and spoken about many times (Pollack-Nelson and Deppa, 2009; Deppa, Pollack-Nelson & Allen, 2010). My interest in this area is driven by the many hats I wear: as a consultant to manufacturers when they are developing their products; as an expert witness in litigation often testifying against manufacturers; and as a member of various ASTM technical subcommittees and an officer on F15.90, the ASTM Executive Committee overseeing all standards developed under F15. Although these roles may seem divergent at times, they all require the same objective assessment of the adequacy of a product design in light of how that product will ultimately and reasonably be used under foreseeable circumstances.

For those of you not involved in voluntary standards, you might be wondering what their significance is. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the federal agency charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury associated with consumer products. They have many tools to protect consumers (e.g., recalls) and one of them is to develop mandatory standards. However, in most instances the CPSC is required to first work with industry to develop voluntary standards before pursuing a mandatory regulation. For this reason, there are many more voluntary standards than mandatory standards.

Voluntary standards can be a useful mechanism for furthering the safety of products. Voluntary standards committees are often composed of individuals with expertise pertaining to the product at issue. Largely consisting of manufacturers, these committees also include retailers, test labs, consumers, and others. Committee members are knowledgeable in the design of the products, how the products are used by consumers, and the injuries associated with their use. Potentially, these committees can develop a standard that is stringent enough to eliminate, guard or warn against any serious and/or likely hazards. Two benefits of voluntary standards over mandatory standards are (1) they can be developed more quickly than mandatory standards because do not require the same public notification and comment process as a mandatory regulation; and (2) there is greater chance of “buy-in” with the standard since those affected by it are involved in its development.

That said, voluntary standards are not always effective in adequately addressing product hazards. There are many reasons for this. One is that voluntary standards are generic in a sense. They are typically written for a class of products rather than any one particular product. As such, the standard may not have provisions covering every hazardous aspect of a product.

Secondly, voluntary standards are consensus standards. That means that what ends up in the standard is only what was agreeable to most on the committee. While some standards committees strive to have the most stringent requirements possible, others do not. And while committees include consumer representatives, industry voices are often louder, stronger, and much greater in number than consumer participants. Most voluntary standards have one, or a few at best, consumer members. It is difficult to find consumers who have the interest, understanding and technical knowledge to meaningfully participate on standards subcommittees. Many times, consumer members are actually parents who have lost a child or family member as a result of the very hazard being addressed in the standard. These people are often very passionate and knowledgeable, but they are outnumbered.

The effectiveness of a standard for addressing a hazard depends both on whether or not it focuses on the particular hazard, as well as where the proverbial bar is set. If there is a lot of disagreement or even if just a few members are opposed to the incorporation of safety provisions, the bar gets lowered. This can take place even when hazards are well known, children have died AND technical fixes are known to exist.

The ANSI standard for window blinds is one example of an ineffective and inadequate standard. The strangulation hazard associated with accessible cords on window coverings has been known to industry since at least the early 1980s. Since that time, there has been an average of 12 deaths each year on cords from window blinds. The window covering industry has put warnings—lots of them—on the blinds including labels on the bottom rail and hang-tags on the pull-cord. Yet 12 children continue to die each year, just as they did 30 years ago. While many consumers may be aware of the pull-cord hazard, others are not; and many parents are unaware of the strangulation hazard posed by the inner cord running through the body of the window covering. If it were not possible to eliminate the risk, the placement of warnings on these products, along with an information and education campaign to raise public awareness, might make sense. However, since at least 2000, cordless window coverings have been made by a number of firms (CPSC, 2000). In fact, the major manufacturers of window coverings sell both corded window coverings and those without accessible cords.

There has been a voluntary ANSI standard for window coverings for decades now and it has been revised numerous times since it was first published in 1996 (ANSI/WCMA, 1996). In fact, this standard is undergoing a revision again right now. However, some proposed changes actually weaken earlier standard provisions. Further, despite the fact that the technology exists to eliminate this hazard once and for all, the new version of this voluntary standard continues to allow accessible cords.

The ANSI standard for gas fireplaces is another standard currently undergoing change (ANSI/CSA, 2003). However, in this case the revisions are aimed at reducing burn injuries involving these products. Previous versions of the standard permitted the accessible glass fronts of gas fireplaces to reach temperatures in excess of 500 degrees F. Children were suffering from serious, painful and disfiguring burns from momentary contact with the glass. In May 2011, I petitioned the CPSC, requesting enactment of a mandatory standard to require safeguards on glass fronts of gas fireplaces. The petition was docketed and the public was invited to respond. Not only did the public respond, but industry responded as well. In January 2012, industry representatives announced a plan to address the burn hazard and change the voluntary standard to require a physical barrier as the primary passive solution for all gas fireplaces that are installed less than 4 feet above the floor. The physical barrier must not become hot enough to cause a severe burn. Furthermore, the industry plans to undertake a consumer education campaign to inform consumers as to the burn hazard and the importance of the barrier (Pollack-Nelson, 2012).

The examples discussed here provide important guidance for manufacturers, consumers, and Human Factors and Ergonomics (HF/E) consultants who advise clients on product safety:

Manufacturers must realize that in protecting consumers, they ultimately protect themselves. Compliance with voluntary standards is essential since such standards are often considered to represent a “minimum good manufacturing practice” in litigation. However, voluntary standards are minimum requirements; manufacturers should do their part to ensure that such standards do everything possible to address known hazards. Furthermore, it is up to each manufacturer to conduct its own product hazard assessment and develop internal standards that eliminate or guard against risks wherever technologically feasible.

Consumers must recognize the limitations of voluntary standards. As the pool net example demonstrates, standards are generic and do not account for all possible product designs. Consumers must be aware of unscrupulous and unknowledgeable manufacturers who claim that their product “complies” with all voluntary standards, when in fact, the applicable standard may not address certain hazardous aspects of the product or may not pertain to the product at all.

Human factors and ergonomics professionals who advise industry also have a responsibility when it comes to voluntary standards. Professionals in the field of safety can impact the voluntary standards process by becoming an active member of a technical subcommittee (Deppa, 2011). ASTM, ANSI, and UL welcome objective, technical expertise. There are subcommittees for a wide range of consumer products including recreational products, children’s products, furniture, and household appliances. Contact the administrator for any of these voluntary standards organizations to offer your services. Only by investing time and energy into understanding a standard and knowing the relevant injury and fatality data is it possible to identify weaknesses in the standard. Such weaknesses not only put consumers at risk—they also put manufacturers and others in the supply chain in financial risk if someone becomes injured on the product.

The bottom line is this: Get involved and facilitate the development of strong voluntary standards that protect consumers and manufacturers from harm.

ANSI/CSA (2003). Standard for vented gas fireplace heaters. Mississauga, Canada: Canadian Standards Association.

ANSI /WCMA (1996). ANSI/WCMA American National Standard for Safety of Corded Window Covering Products A100.1-96, New York, NY: WCMA.

Deppa, S. (2011). Participation on voluntary committees for standards and codes by forensic practitioners—a win-win combination. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 55th Annual Meeting, 608-612, Santa Monica, CA.

Deppa, S., Pollack-Nelson, C. & Allen, E.  (2010). “So Your Consumer Product Complies with the Voluntary Safety Standard—Now What?” Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society's 54th Annual Meeting, 728-732, Santa Monica, CA.

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (2000). CPSC Window Covering Industry Announce Recall to Repair Window Blinds—New Investigation of Children’s Deaths Leads to Redesigned Window Blinds, CPSC News Release 01-023, November 1, 2000.

KXAN (2012). Couple questions safety of pool net. LIN Television of Texas, LIN Television Corporation, Friday, 31 Aug 2012.

Pollack-Nelson, C. (2012). The Burn Hazard Presented by Gas Fireplace Glass, Ergonomics in Design, 20 (3), 14-18, HFES, Santa Monica, CA.

Pollack-Nelson, C. and Deppa, S. (2009). “The Role and Limitations of Voluntary Standards in Consumer Product Safety,” Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society's 53rd Annual Meeting, 563-567, Santa Monica, CA.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

STTG Officer Nominations

It’s that time of year... STTG election time! We are looking for one or more nominees for each of the following positions:

  • Technical Group Chair (2 year term)
  • Newsletter Editor (2 year term)
  • Program Chair Elect (1 year as Elect + 1 year as Program Chair)
  • Webmaster (1 year term)

Positions become effective at the close of the 2012 TG business meeting. There are no term limits and you may nominate yourself. If you wish to nominate someone else, please check to be sure that the person is willing to run. Following HFES rules, nominees for the Chair and Program Chair Elect positions must be Full Members of HFES and members of the TG. The Webmaster position can be filled by any HFES member provided they are members of the TG.

Please reply to me with nominations by SEPTEMBER 7, 2012. Election ballots will be emailed shortly after the close of the nomination cycle.


Position Descriptions

TG Chair: The TG chair has overall responsibility to ensure that the group meets its minimum requirements. The chair works with the HFES executive director in scheduling the TG's annual business meeting and arranging other events; with the newsletter editor regarding timing, content, distribution method, and cost of newsletters; and with other officers to ensure that TG activities are being carried out. The chair also represents the TG as a member of the Council of Technical Groups.

Program Chair Elect: Understudy and assistant to the 2012 program chair (Greg Fitch). The Program Chair Elect becomes the Program Chair for the following annual conference (2013 in San Diego). The Program Chair is responsible for overseeing the technical review of proposals submitted for the HFES Annual Meeting.

Webmaster: Responsible for maintaining the STTG website.

Newsletter Editor: The newsletter editor is responsible for producing at least two newsletters per year and distributing them to TG members. The newsletter is the vital link between a TG's officers and its members, and its quality and frequency are often associated with members' level of satisfaction with their TG affiliation. TGs that do not produce newsletters are subject to disaffiliation from HFES.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Job Announcement: Assistant Professor position at Central Michigan

The Department of Psychology at Central Michigan University invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position effective August 2013. To apply, visit and upload a cover letter, curriculum vita, publication reprints, as well as evidence of teaching effectiveness.

Research Announcement: NSBRI, NASA soliciting research proposals

This NRA is available through the NASA Research Opportunities homepage at and then linking through the menu listings "Solicitations" to "Open Solicitations." On the Open Solicitations page, select NNJ12ZSA002N from the list of Solicitations.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Surface Transportation Sessions at HFES 2012

The STTG is pleased to announce its program for the 2012 Annual Meeting
This year we earned six lecture sessions–two more than last year–and one discussion panel.

Our lectures start Tuesday morning at 10:30. Under the umbrella of “Driver Distraction and Drowsy Driving,” we’ll hear about trends in driver distraction, reading while driving, mobile phone dialing, text messaging, and detection of drowsiness.

Tuesday afternoon’s presenters will discuss driver assistance systems. Topics include supplemental sounds for hybrid vehicles, automatic braking, active lane-change correction systems, and several innovative warning systems.

Driver Visual Behavior is the theme for the Wednesday afternoon session. Headlight glare, rearview camera displays, and detection of traffic signs are among the topics.

Thursday’s sessions begin at 8:30 with an exploration of New Methods for Data Analysis and Design. Techniques include rapid prototyping, agent-based modeling, task analysis, and more. After lunch, speakers will explore the controversial topic of Driver Attitudes Toward Monitoring, with a focus on commercial drivers.

We do hope you will plan to stick around for our two Friday sessions. The morning session, Driving Simulators and Vehicle Interiors, includes comparisons of scenarios across simulators, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and two new approaches to applying anthropometry to vehicle interior design. Friday afternoon features the STTG’s only discussion panel for the year. Raja Parasuraman will chair the conversation about Reducing Major Rule Violations in Commuter Rail Operations.

The full session schedule is online at Click the Browse button at the middle of the page. From there, use the Technical Group drop-down menu to select Surface Transportation.

Thanks to Program Chair Greg Fitch and all the reviewers who contributed time and expertise to selecting this year's featured papers. See you in Boston!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Job Announcement from Texas Tech University Psychology Department

The psychology department at Texas Tech University is undergoing unprecedented growth and has multiple open faculty positions. Please visit for more details!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Faculty position at Georgia Tech

The School of Psychology invites applications for a tenured or tenure-track position in Engineering Psychology, rank open. Visit for more details.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Request for Lecture Session Chairs at HFES Annual Meeting

If anyone is interested in chairing a lecture session at the HFES annual meeting this October, please contact Greg Fitch. Responsibilities are minimal, and involve introducing speakers and helping them keep track of their time. We’re short a few chairs and appreciate additional volunteers. Thanks for considering this request.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Job Opening at MEA Forensic

MEA Forensic is seeking a Human Factors scientist capable of technical investigations across a variety of domains. Visit for more details!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Human Factors Prize Submissions Due July 1

Human Factors invites contributions that explore how the science of human factors/ergonomics can facilitate the design of many types of products. The specific product is not the focus; rather, we are seeking research that would facilitate product design in general. Examples of the types of papers sought, as well as other details, may be found on the FAQ page,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Job posting: Google User Experience Researcher

Google is currently seeking an experienced human factors expert to join our research program in self-driving vehicles, and assist various other projects around the company. If interested, please contact Brian Cullinane with your resume directly at

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Positions Available at Transportation Research Board

TRB has announced two position openings for transportation professionals at our Washington, DC offices. Both positions are for Senior Program Officers in our Technical Activities Division. Interested individuals should use the following link:

4th International Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications (AutomotiveUI'12)

4th International Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications (AutomotiveUI'12). October 17-19, 2012, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA
Conference website:

3rd International Symposium on Naturalistic Driving Research

You are invited to register and attend the “Third International Symposium on Naturalistic Driving Research” sponsored by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence.  The symposium will be held at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center in Blacksburg, VA on August 27 – 30, 2012.