Human Factors in Transport and Workplace Safety


Human factors is about understanding people’s abilities, characteristics and limitations, and then applying that understanding to the design of the systems they use, the tasks they perform and the environments in which they function.

Our Human Factors team undertakes world-class projects in the areas of traffic safety, human machine interaction, workplace road safety, equipment design, road safety modelling, vehicle automation and driver behaviour. The research is applied across multiple settings including transportation, healthcare, workplace, defence, mining, manufacturing and product design.

Human factors is also known as Ergonomics or Human-Centred Design.

Expertise and Resources

Team members have backgrounds in experimental psychology, human factors, computer science and engineering.

The team uses a variety of methods to support projects, including on-road testing, simulation, surveys, participatory ergonomics design, structured interviews, stakeholder consultation and human factors methods such as cognitive task analysis, and interface and usability assessment.

Our simulation facilities, vehicles and capabilities are unmatched in Australia:

  • A full car (Holden) simulator with new software and functionality that includes a motion platform, 3D sound, eye tracking and advanced driver behaviour monitoring systems
  • A motorbike simulator: developed in conjunction with Italian rider safety researchers
  • A cycle simulator that uses Virtual Reality technology
  • A truck simulator with full truck cab
  • A vehicle automation simulator for investigating issues such as resumption of control from automated to manual driving
  • A portable car simulator that can easily be transported to other locations

Key Areas of Research Focus

  • Simulator studies using our car, motorcycle, bike, automation and truck simulator platforms
  • The safety benefits of vehicle automation and new technologies
  • Safe design of equipment, tasks, and systems
  • Work-related road traffic injury: Managing the risk
  • Impairment related to alcohol/drugs and fatigue/drowsiness
  • Driver/operator decision-making, error and situation awareness
  • Transitioning back to ‘good’ work
  • Driver and pedestrian distraction related to in-vehicle devices and external sources
  • The design and evaluation of advanced driver assistance systems and information systems, including driver acceptance of in-vehicle technology
  • The influence of road signage and infrastructure design on road safety
  • Development of methods to model operator performance in complex systems
  • Vehicle and train cabin ergonomics
  • Organisational influences on worker safety


Across all areas of safety, we provide solutions and policy guidance for our partners and clients. Our research addresses real world needs and meets strict academic quality standards.

In transport safety, this includes the safe design and deployment of vehicle automation, investigating driver decision-making and situation awareness, evaluating in-vehicle technologies, researching the influence of road signage and infrastructure design, and addressing driver/rider training needs.

Within workplaces, it includes methods to optimise operator performance in complex work systems, and investigating organisational influences on worker safety.

Our human-centred, safe system methods deliver a wide-ranging approach to accident prevention.


MUARC has conducted highly-respected and influential research for nearly 30 years. We regularly collaborate with domestic and international partners across state and federal government, as well as, industry leaders in roads, healthcare, workplace safety, defence and mining.

We have developed strong relationships with more than 25 collaborators and partners across Australia, Sweden, the UK, Spain, the USA and the Netherlands.

Recent collaborators and partners

  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, USA
  • Alfred Hospital, Melbourne
  • WorkSafe Victoria
  • Cambridge University, UK
  • Seeing Machines
  • Transport Research Laboratory, UK
  • VicRoads
  • University of Queensland
  • Transport Accident Commission (TAC)
  • Department of Justice (Vic)
  • Coventry University, UK
  • Victoria Police
  • Austroads
  • University of New South Wales