Monday, 18 July 2011

Road Safety Dog?

No, not that dog, it just seemed like a good place to re-use the photo.



The BBC's Top Gear programme has its very own TGD - Top Gear Dog - so I thought there should be an equivalent: Road Safety Dog :)

I've used a 'dog' comparison previously when discussing better riding (or better driving, if you prefer), in particular comparing the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) use of the mental system 'Search Predict Act' (now superseded by Search Evaluate Execute) against the UK's 'Observe Plan Act'.

What's the difference? Well, I like words and, following on from the UK's history of police-derived rider training, the word 'observe' puts me in mind of a copper sat in a car 'on obbo', filling his face with coffee and doughnuts - observing a premises or person; very static, very reactive.

Compare that to the police ‘drugs’ dog, searching for a hidden stash - sticking his nose in everywhere, no stone unturned; an active, dynamic process.

Now put both into the riding context. Which do you think is best, a passive 'waiting for something to happen' attitude - or an active attitude, searching for hazards ahead. It's probably not a surprise that I prefer the 'active' attitude of the word 'search'.

So why am I bringing Road Safety Dog out for another walk along the highways?

Well, he provides a very simple way of explaining how 'visibility' differs from 'conspicuity', and the varying types of conspicuity which exist.

So, what is 'visibility'? Quite simply, it means something is visible, it's not hidden. Inside his kennel RSD is probably hidden from your view, so he's not visible. When he walks out to bask in the Sun he then becomes visible.



But is he 'conspicuous'?



Well, possibly. But there are three levels of conspicuity:
  • Search conspicuity
  • Attention conspicuity
  • Cognitive conspicuity

RSD can do all of these! In doing so, he may help you understand how you may - or may not - be seen when out on the road.

If you walk into a room, and just glance around, you may miss Road Safety Dog because he’s asleep in the far corner. But if I ask you to look for a dog you’re more likely to see him. That, perhaps unsurprisingly, is called ‘search conspicuity’.

However, I didn’t ask you to look for him, so you’ve walked across the room but, unfortunately, happen to be near his favourite toy. He’s not happy - so growls. You look around, and see RSD. He growled, you looked. That’s ‘attention conspicuity’. In ‘road user’ terms that might be a headlamp, DRL or hi-viz – or tooting your horn to try and get a driver to look at you.

But you may not actually know what a dog is, or how sharp RSD’s teeth might be . . . If you know those things, then you might be more wary of picking up his bone without his permission. And that knowledge, those associations, are cognitive conspicuity – an understanding of the meaning ‘behind’ what you see. Again, in ‘road’ terms, a driver needs to know that ‘single light = motorcycle’, not ‘single light = car far away’, and also that ‘headlamp = person on a bike’. Better still, the driver would have an understanding of a bike’s braking and handling limitations.



At a guess, this was the 'ruff guide’ to road safety :)



Want to know more? Have a read here:

Loads of interesting articles.



1 comment:

Kevin Williams said...

Top post Malc... explains a very important concept very clearly (as well as with your usual idiosyncracy :o) )
Kevin Williams / Survival Skills Rider Training