Enhancing safe driving behaviour of professional drivers PhD

Entry requirements:
2:1 +
Not available
Reference number:
Start date:
October 2017
UK/EU fees:
International fees:
Application deadline:
October 2017



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Project detail

Economic growth is strongly linked to the transport and mobility of people and goods; however, this activity brings side effects which include road crashes. The costs of traffic casualties in the UK are estimated to be over £10 billion each year. Freight transport is heavily reliant on the roads, with 1692.6 billion tonnes per kilometre of goods moved each year, within Europe. Consequently, there are large numbers of professional drivers operating heavy vehicles on our roads. The large mass of trucks results in an over-representation in serious road crashes. Even when injuries do not occur, the crashes often result in extensive congestion of the road network. Such crashes occur as a result of many interacting factors. Most often, a combination of circumstances aligns to create a situation in which driver errors occur and subsequent crashes happen. Understanding these circumstances is necessary to develop strategies to prevent them.

The aim of this PhD is to a) identify and evaluate factors which influence professional drivers’ safe and unsafe driving behaviours, which may lead to crashes; and b) inform the development of interventions to enhance safe driving behaviour for professional drivers. The exact scope of the project can be shaped to best suit the student’s interests and expertise. Example factors of influence which may be considered include:

  • Driver characteristics e.g. age, social demographic status, propensity for risk taking, physical fitness etc.
  • Driver states e.g. fatigue, inattention, distraction etc.
  • Driving behaviour e.g. speeding, brake/acceleration patterns, duration of driving, road types driven on etc.
  • Professional environment e.g. company training provided, company policies on driving duration, break requirements, driver/manager relations etc.
  • Acceptability and usability of training and technology based interventions to enhance safe driving behaviour.

The PhD will take a multi-modal methodological approach. The exact study methods used can be shaped to best suit the student’s interests and expertise. Example approaches include:

  • Analysis of police and in-depth crash data to identify causal factors in truck crashes.
  • Questionnaires with drivers and freight operators.
  • Quantitative data collection from on-board recorders to analyse real world driver behaviour (suitable for students with experience of big data, statistics and mathematics backgrounds)
  • Qualitative data collection from focus groups and interviews with drivers, driver trainers and freight operators (suitable for students with experience in psychology and qualitative methods)

This PhD will develop new approaches to capture and analyse data about professional driver behaviour with the intention to understand how best to influence and inform safe driving. Students should have an interest in driver behaviour research and have the capability to work with quantitative data sets. There is potential to include qualitative methodology if this matches the student’s experience and interest. This project would suit a student with strong interpersonal skills and willingness to work with industry partners in the professional driving industry.


Primary supervisor: Ashleigh Filtness      

Secondary supervisor: Andrew Morris 

Find out more

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in psychology, human factors, data science, engineering, mathematics or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: road user behaviour, road safety, human factors, big data analysis, statistics and data science.

All students must also meet the minimum English Language requirements.

Fees and funding


Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Special arrangements are made for payments by part-time students.

This is an open call for candidates who are sponsored or who have their own funding. If you do not have funding, you may still apply, however Institutional funding is not guaranteed. Outstanding candidates (UK/EU/International) without funding will be considered for funding opportunities which may become available in the School.

How to apply

All applications should be made online. Under programme name select Loughborough Design School. Please quote reference number: AJF/LDS/2017