The driving instructors of Mercedez-Benz are going to use an intervention technique created by researchers of the University of Tartu
The driving school chain Mercedes Benz Driving Academy will influence the attitude of their students towards transport safety in their U.S and Canadian driving schools with an intervention technique developed by the psychologists and healthcare scientists of the University of Tartu. The aim of the technique is to reduce the impulsive behaviour of beginner drivers in traffic.
One of the developers of the technique, Jaanus Harro, Professor of psychophysiology at the University of Tartu described that the aim of the technique is to teach people to be conscious of the dangers of making spur-of-the-moment decisions, such as making a dangerous manoeuvre which often has severe consequences.
“The intervention technique involves training with the focus on the future driver’s character traits that may cause excessive risk behaviour in traffic. The training is very much focused on the meaning of impulsivity, in the light of which we give people feedback on their own impulsivity.” Harro said that there is a trip from the University of Tartu to Vancouver already in August with the aim of training the driving instructors on the use of the intervention technique there and in Los Angeles.
Jane Saatre, Intellectual Property Manager at the University of Tartu said that Estonian driving schools can also gain knowledge on the use of the intervention technique for free at the University of Tartu and implement it in their driving courses: “The course Acknowledgement of Impulsivity and Risk Inclination in Driving School is aimed at all interested driving schools to contribute to the risk management in Estonian traffic behaviour in cooperation with the university. The course gives the driving instructor competence to pass on the technique independently to current and future drivers. The electronic part of the course is planned to be made public for learners in cooperation with OÜ Teooria in an electronic environment, but an important part of the intervention technique consists of group sessions, for an effective carrying out of which the in-service training for lecturers is meant for.”
The working group lead by Professor Jaanus Harro has researched people’s behaviour in traffic already since 2001. To evaluate people’s risk behaviour in traffic, several nurses, Doctoral candidates and Master’s students collected biosamples in driving schools of Tallinn and Tartu, so the contribution of students to the research on traffic behaviour is also very significant.
The traffic research of the research team includes among other things studies of the gene variants shaping the brain’s serotonin neurons which influence a person’s impulsivity, aggression and risk behaviour, including behaviour in traffic. “As the influence of genetic factors on behaviour mainly becomes manifest in conjunction with environmental factors, then it is in principle possible that certain kind of intervention, for example a lecture in driving school, influences the carriers of certain gene variants more than it would other people,” added a member of the research group, Marika Paaver, senior research fellow of clinical psychology at the University of Tartu.
Additional information: Jaanus Harro, Professor of psychophysiology at the University of Tartu, tel: 737 6657, 510 2798, e-mail: jaanus.harro [ät] ut.ee.