Men aged 18 to 25 are most at risk in dangerous overtaking

A study carried out at the São Carlos School of Engineering (EESC) at USP revealed that men aged 18 to 25 years are 42% more likely to take risks in overtaking maneuvers on a single track, considered the most dangerous of the highways, than men older men and women. The figure corroborates the national traffic records that show that youth and adult males are the vast majority of fatal victims of frontal collision.

The work was developed at the Department of Transport Engineering (STT) of EESC, under the coordination of Professor Ana Paula C. Larocca. To carry out the research, the scientists invited 100 volunteers from all age groups and qualified to participate in experiments in a driving simulator capable of reproducing virtually any type of highway in a realistic way. The equipment has three screens that project the images of the track, sound system, car cockpit equipped with steering wheel, pedals and gearshift lever, as well as four cameras with software that accompanies the drivers’ eyes and assesses whether drivers are watching signs and objects along the way. A single-lane, two-way highway was designed especially for research,

“Research has shown that young men tend to take more risks in this type of dangerous overtaking. We observed that they stuck a lot on the rear of the vehicle in front and made several unsuccessful attempts to overtake, having to return to their original position. They often overtook while a vehicle came in the opposite direction, unlike women, who waited for the car to pass. This more aggressive behavior of men in this age group can be explained by a greater overconfidence, which ends up increasing the risk of driving, so much so that they are part of the group that is most involved in accidents ”, explains the teacher.

Professor Ana Paula and student Alex Taima Costa, student of the Civil Engineering course at EESC and former scientific initiation fellow at the São Paulo Research Foundation (Fapesp). Photo: Henrique Fontes – EESC / USP

According to Datatran, a database of the Federal Highway Police, 94% of drivers involved annually in frontal collision accidents in Brazil are men. Between 2008 and 2018, there were 15 thousand deaths, with drivers between 20 and 50 years of age appearing most in the tragedies. In the same period, there were a total of 1.5 million accidents on federal highways in the country and, although frontal collisions represent only 3.2% of the total, they are responsible for 31% of deaths: in ten years, there were 25 thousand deaths recorded, in addition to 17,000 serious injuries and 25,000 minor injuries.

USP research also showed that men aged 25 to 35 are 36% more likely to take risks in overtaking on a single track than older men and women. According to Professor Ana Paula, results such as those obtained at work can contribute to the creation of awareness campaigns, encouraging good behavior and risk perception aimed at this audience. In addition, other possible actions are the installation of new signs, the establishment of technical standards, infrastructure works or even, as a last resort, the total overhaul of the highway geometry.
In the study, which is part of Aurenice da Cruz Figueira’s doctoral thesis, the researchers also investigated the factors that influence overtaking on single-lane highways, focusing on the effects that speed and the model of the vehicle ahead can generate. . The results showed that, on average, when the driver in front was at a speed of 60 kilometers per hour (km / h), those who followed were already showing the intention of overtaking him, starting to perform some lateral maneuvers. If the vehicle in front was a truck, attempts to overtake were more frequent. In all results, men were more willing to take risks, even if the vehicles in front were above 60 km / h.

Aurenice conducted a doctoral research at the São Carlos School of Engineering – Photo: Aurenice Figueira – Personal archive
Aurenice completed a doctorate at EESC. Photo: Aurenice Figueira – Personal archive
The research results generated two articles that were published in international scientific journals ( Link 1 and Link 2). Created by the STT Road Safety Study Group, the simulator used in the study will soon have a new structure. It will be incorporated into a real vehicle, seeking to make the user experience more real and immersive. Other research is being conducted with the help of technology, including work on reducing accidents through changes in road signs; analysis and updating of signaling manuals in the works and services area; improvements in sections that are subject to fog; studies on the dimensions of speed limit signs in the driver’s perception; and research with tools for the autonomous driving of vehicles.

The research with the driving simulator is funded by the São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (Fapesp), the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Capes).