Mindfulness and Road Safety
Mindfulness training is defined as the teaching or learning of practices designed to help individuals to focus their attention on the present moment in a non-judgmental manner, and has been shown to improve attentional focus while simultaneously reducing reaction time and emotional reactivity. Given that mindfulness training can improve intentional and unintentional behaviour in other contexts, there is emerging evidence which suggests that it could be used as an effective intervention to improve driving behaviours and have significant benefits for road safety.
For example, recent research conducted by MUARC and the Mindfulness experts at Monash University, has demonstrated that increased mindfulness is associated with lower rates of intentional and unintentional unsafe driving behaviours, lower frequencies of distracted driving, and mediated the relationship between anger and aggressive driving behaviours. In addition, drivers who reported participating in a generic mindfulness training program had significantly fewer crashes in the previous two years compared to drivers who did not practice mindfulness training.
While these findings suggest that mindfulness training can improve driving behaviours, these findings are based on generic mindfulness training programs and it is anticipated that these improvements could be significantly enhanced if the mindfulness training targets key areas of road safety concern that are related to driver behaviour and attention (e.g., speeding, aggression, distraction, etc.). This PhD research program will explore how generic mindfulness training programs could be extended to incorporate key unsafe driving behaviours to improve driving behaviours and to reduce crash-related deaths and injuries on Australian roads.
This thesis would be supervised by Associate Professor Sjaan Koppel and Dr Amanda Stephens.