HFES 48th annual meeting papers feature work on critical health and safety issues


The full program is available as a PDF download at the HFES Web site, http://hfes.org, click on "View the final program." To obtain copies of the papers noted below, to request a press pass to the meeting, or to reach the speakers, contact Lois Smith (310-394-1811, [email protected]).


Human Factors Engineering for Space Exploration Missions
Jeffrey W. McCandless, NASA Ames Research Center, et al.
Wednesday September 22, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 noon, Napoleon B1 – 3rd Floor

As NASA's plans for space exploration come into focus, the importance of human factors will come to the fore as scientists grapple with the demands of manned space travel. Problems of time, distance, and hostile environments will offer new challenges to human factors designers. Space vehicle launch, docking, navigation, and landing will require complex interactions between computers and human operators. Operation of complex life-support, transportation, emergency response, and scientific systems will require the development of effective and efficient job aids and procedures. Planetary surface habitats will be designed with the life support systems and home comforts necessary for long-duration tenure.

The NASA space human factors community is already beginning to address these challenges by using analogs and simulators and through basic and applied research in NASA laboratories. The presentations in this panel will describe some of the current efforts to support NASA's future space explorations.


New Approaches to Overcoming E-mail Overload
Shawn Weil, David Tinapple, and David D. Woods, Ohio State University
Wednesday September 22, 1:30 p.m.- 3:00 p.m., Napoleon A1/A2 – 3rd Floor

Is the usefulness of e-mail as a communication device at an end? With a greater volume of e-mail––including a substantial amount of junk mail––now clogging the inboxes of many workers, the authors of this paper analyzed the problem in terms of data overload and suggest three design concepts to alleviate the frustrating experience of sorting through e-mail.


Human Factors and Voting Technology
Tiffany Jastrzembski, Neil Charness, Patricia Holley, Florida State University
Friday, September 24, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m., Nottoway – 4th Floor

The controversy of the 2000 U.S. presidential election brought a new focus to the issue of accuracy in casting and counting votes. This study presents an analysis of current electronic voting systems, including a survey of machine types, an explanation of ballot types, and a look at the effects of age on voting. One hundred participants, composed of 50 older adults and 50 younger adults, participated in a simulated election using a variety of electronic voting technologies (no manual ballots were used). By accommodating voters with limited capabilities (e.g., older participants), the voting technologies were observed to be beneficial for all participants, with minimal error rates and the shortest completion time observed with the touchscreen system.


Passenger and Cell Phone Conversations in Simulated Driving
Frank Drews, Monisha Pasupathi, & David Strayer, University of Utah
Thursday, September 23, 8:30 a.m – 10:00 a.m., Rhythms – 2nd Floor

Talking on a cell phone while driving has already proved to be a safety risk, with some researchers comparing the level of impairment to a blood alcohol level of .08. But is a conversation on a cell phone any worse than a conversation with a passenger in the vehicle? The authors of the study used three types of situations to monitor how well drivers followed task instructions in a driving simulator: driving only, driving and conversing on a cell phone, and driving and conversing with a passenger.

The results show that the greatest number of errors occurred with participants using cell phones while driving. An analysis of conversations between drivers and passengers reveals that the activity is much safer than cell phone conversations because such conversations may include talking about traffic concerns and sharing awareness of driving conditions.

Are Seatbelt Usage Rates Lower Than We Think?
Douglas Young, Exponent, Failure Analysis Associates, et al.
Thursday, September 23, 3:30 p.m – 5:00 p.m., Maurepas – 3rd Floor

Statistics about seatbelt use may not be as accurate as previously thought. Over the past three years, several studies have estimated seatbelt use in the United States at an all-time high, with one study pegging the figure at 79% in 2003. Those studies have mostly generated statistics by observing the shoulder belt use of drivers and front-seat passengers in vehicles during daylight hours at major and local roads, which include exit ramps on interstate highways and intersections.

These rates may be overestimating the actual rate of use due to geographical locations, types of vehicles, and other parameters. This study found that only 52% of drivers fastened seatbelts upon leaving public locations. Many drivers' behaviors in using seatbelts at the beginning of their journeys were affected by driving environments and situations. In addition, many drivers may not begin to fasten their seatbelt until starting to drive, creating safety risks.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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