Road Safety Training for Academics

Universiteit Hasselt - Knowledge in action


The following topics will be dealt with in the international road safety training programme (the programme is subject to minor changes):

  • Introduction to Transportation Research
  • Transport Systems & Transport Policy: an Introduction
  • Road Safety Evaluation: Methods and Applications
  • Strategic Project Analysis
  • Traffic and Travel Behaviour
  • Behavioural Influence
  • In-Depth Crash Investigation

The programme consists of several modules. The modules will be taught using a mix of lectures, active participation in work sessions, guest lectures and research sessions. The programme is supplemented with excursions in Belgium and The Netherlands to study good practices in transportation (urban planning, public transport, traffic safety,...).


A. Introduction to Transportation Research

This course has three particular aims. Firstly, to introduce students into some of the basic principles of conducting and reporting a scientific study (i.e., searching & consulting literature, how to write a scientific report). Secondly, to propose research methods that are common in the field of road safety, such as driving simulation, survey, conflict observation, etc. Thirdly, to introduce students into research methods and approaches that are common in the field of mobility & travel behaviour, such as activity based models, GIS, etc.

B. Transport systems & transport policy: an introduction

This course is aimed at introducing the student to the transport system (the factors that drive this system), the impact the transport system has on accessibility, safety and the environment, and transport policy making and
evaluations. Topics include:

  • Individual needs, opportunities and travel behaviour
  • land use and transport
  • transport resistance factors: time, money and effort
  • transport technology to reduce transport's negative impacts
  • accessibility: perspectives, measures and applications
  • transport and the environment
  • traffic safety
  • transport policy
  • transportation models and their applications


C. Road Safety Evaluation: Methods and Applications

In this course methods and approaches are discussed that can be used to assess the effects of (alterations in) the traffic system on road safety. Examples of discussed methods and approaches are cross sectional risk models and effectiveness evaluations by means of before and after studies, conflict observations and driving simulator research. The methods are explained during the lectures and afterwards applied during one or more workshops. The main objective of this course is to get the students acquainted with the most important techniques to mearsure and assess the impact of possible measures on traffic safety.

D. Strategic Project Analysis

The focus in this course is on soft systems thinking. Systems thinking can be applied to a wide range of diverse problems in order to clearly structure the problem, consider various responses to the problem and propose a solution taking into account the consequences for all actors.

Starting from a complex, vague context, various steps need to be taken and applied on several cases, such as:

  • Development of a conceptual model including key factors and elements, their interrelationship and contribution to the problem, as well as relevant stakeholders;
  • Generation of scenarios;
  • Presentation of consequences from the perspective of a particular actor;
  • Evaluation of alternatives.

E. Traffic and Travel Behaviour

Human behaviour is central to mobility and traffic issues. Insight in the explanatory factors of behaviour is essential for understanding these issues and to come to successful solutions. The current course focuses on behaviour and provides necessary background knowledge for the course Behavioural influence. The emphasis within this course is on the explanation of behaviour. With this knowledge about explanatory factors in mind, the student learns more about behavioural change in the course of Behavioural influence.

Understanding 'everyday' human behaviour is a central part of the scientific domain of psychology and in this course emphasis will be on psychological factors rather than economic, political, etc. factors that of course can also influence our behaviour. Psychology is still a broad and diverse domain, and within the current course we will limit ourselves to the subdomain of social psychology. Explanatory factors of behaviour consist of motivational, cognitive and affective factors, e.g., rewards and punishments, attitudes, feelings and emotions. Human behaviour is however influenced not only by individual factors but also, to a stronger degree, by external factors in the social environment. In general, the influence of these external factors on our behaviour is heavily underestimated, a phenomenon referred to as the fundamental attribution flaw. In the theoretical part students will learn about socio-psychological theories that explain human behaviour; the practical part (i.e., paper assignment) will require student to apply these theories and socio-psychological concepts to a specific traffic and mobility issue. Classical themes from social psychology are introduced, such as conformity, attitudes, social cognition models, cognitive dissonance, habitual and reasoned behaviour.

F. Behavioural Influence

The main objective of this course is to offer students a concrete action plan which enables them to effectively design, implement and evaluate a programme to change behaviour. This action plan is known as Intervention Mapping. It is based on a phased process of successive steps which eventually lead to a theory-driven and empirically founded behavioural intervention. The different stages which can be distinguished in this planning scheme are: problem and demand analysis, the identification of performance objectives, defining the main behavioural determinants which need to be changed by the intervention programme and the choice of an appropriate intervention method as well as the translation of this methodology in a concrete strategy with a planning of the development, implementation and evaluation of the intervention programme. On the one hand, students will get the necessary theoretical background for every step within this process. On the other hand, they will learn how to use this Intervention Mapping protocol in practice, in a problem-driven manner. Topics which will be dealt with for the application of the Intervention Mapping approach will always be related to mobility and traffic safety. Examples are: driving under the influence of alcohol and/or narcotics, seat-belt use, speed behaviour or use of bicycle helmets and child restraint seats, the promotion of public transport, choice of transport mode or changes in behaviour as a result of announced traffic-jams.

G. In-Depth Crash Investigation

This course focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of techniques applied for the in-depth analysis of crashes, in order to explain the events leading or preceding a crash, to describe the point of impact and to gain insights in the broader aspects and consequences of crashes. More specifically, the following topics are discussed: introduction to crash analysis, precautionary measures for working on location, vehicle inspection, analyzing the crash site, collecting information from witnesses, applying basic mathematics and physics concepts in in-depth crash analysis, introduction to the principles of crash reconstruction, the definition of a crash and crash-relevant event. This course is made available by means of video footage which can be viewed at the student's own pace.