FinalReport SAFER Pre-study safety culture for AVs

There is an increasing automation in road transport, involving introduction of fully automated vehicles (AV) in some areas. Organizations that introduce automated vehicles need support on how to develop a sustainable safety culture with zero accidents. There is a need to investigate the gap between the implementation of automated vehicles and human behavior at all organizational levels, and to link to the zero vision with practical applications to enhance the safety culture in transport businesses.
The aim was to explore existing practice and knowledge of safety culture in traffic related to automation, trying to identify and analyze blank spots and risks. Additionally, to identify how companies using automated vehicles can succeed in achieving a good safety culture. At first a literature review was performed, secondly five interviews were made in Sweden and in Norway to explore experiences from innovation projects with fully autonomous vehicles. Thirdly a workshop was conducted with researchers from different areas and developers of AVs. The purpose was to get an interdisciplinary discussion on safety culture and technology development. The aim was to explore potential risks and the meaning of safety culture when autonomous vehicles are introduced. Finally, a proposal for a research project based on the findings were submitted and accepted.
Results from the literature review concluded that a key area that should be examined in future research is the influence of organizational safety culture in implementation of AV in companies, e.g. terminals, ports etc. or professional drivers. The interviews revealed six themes. These themes should be lifted forward when investigating safety culture in industries that plan to introduce new or higher levels of automation. The interviews also explored existing practice and a low knowledge level of safety culture in traffic related to automation. In the workshop two topics were discussed: (i) Safety culture in the organization with Autonomous Vehicles and (ii) Safety culture in product development. It resulted in six themes that should be studied further; 1) Safety vs. Productivity 2) Culture and norms 3) Responsibility 4) Adjustability 5) From user to organizational centered design 6) Built-in safety culture in the design of product.
The conclusion is that there is a lack of studies on safety culture in development of AVs. Automation is technology driven, and the transport sector needs to prepare by organizing safety from a system’s perspective, such as safety culture. The themes from the workshop could form the basis to propose methods and instruments to measure and support safety culture in automation. The integration of sustainability and gender equality is also undeveloped and in order to achieve the 2030 agenda, the results could form a starting point to the processes and tools to facilitate change. Additional studies are needed to identify and to produce guidelines for companies using automated vehicles as well as to establish a good safety culture.
The next step is to carry out the new FFI pre-study which forms the basis for a full application where tools for developing safety culture in automation, will be developed, studying best practice, KPIs and routines, using different case studies in the industry. The pre-study contributes with basic knowledge of survey tools for measuring and developing safety culture, sustainability and gender equality, as well as a model for understanding and developing the safety culture. Accomplishing a mutual learning between industries and researchers.


Christina Stave
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Safer – Vehicle and Traffic Safety Centre

SAFER is the open research arena where researchers and expertise work together to create safe mobility. Our traffic safety approach covers people, vehicles and the infrastructure – and together we contribute to safer road transports and smarter, more sustainable cities.

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