Human Factors Engineering

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Human Factors Engineering


Environmental and Biological Influences

James Powell Date: February 2009
Assignment 4 Briefing
Environmental & Biological Influences

During this assignment I will explain how environmental and biological factors influence the performance of humans when driving a motor vehicle. I will also consider the following points:

Temperature and Humidity
Noise and Vibration
Biological Influences
Unnatural Modifiers

This assignment needs to be a minimum of four thousand words.


Page 2Assignment 4 briefing
4The Human Body
5The Ideal Environment
6 Vision and Reaction
20 Sounds and Vibrations
24The Circadian Cycle
25 Fatigue
27 Unnatural Modifiers
32 Conclusion
33 -35 References and Bibliography
35 Wordcount

The Human Body
The human race as we know it evolved approximately two million years ago, our bodies have evolved to live in warm climates, preferably flatland savannah. In order to survive humans needed to hunt food, this invariably involved travelling. They needed to see, understand and assimilate information through binocular vision, act according to the information received and be able to carry out avoidance techniques at the same time in order to prevent becoming someone or something else’s food! This all may have been happening whilst travelling at an absolute maximum of between 4-10 miles per hour.

It is a fact that the motor car has only been around for about a hundred years and during that time it has evolved in a massive way, from the first bone shakers, to the new all singing all dancing technical gadgets they are today. We however, as human beings have not changed very much in the last 50,000 years. We have, however, adapted our psychological approach in order to cope with evolution, revolution and invention and it is through this progress that we are able to cope with modern day life, especially complicated tasks such as driving a car. The human body is still a very fragile object and whilst capable of great feats of achievement, is very poor at coping with extremes of conditions such as trauma, discomfort, distraction and poor health. In short, if the environment isn’t just right, our bodies’ performance deteriorates, sometimes to and beyond the point of danger. The Ideal Environment

In order to deliver an adequate level of performance to the task in hand, driving a car as the example for this assignment, the human body needs certain criteria to be fulfilled: •There must be adequate light to be able to see but

There must be a minimum amount of visual distraction
There must be an ambient environmental temperature and humidity that the body can operate within together with •An adequate level of comfort for the driver
There must be a minimum of extraneous noise
There must be an adequate amount of interest in the task but •The task must not be too complicated
There must be adequate time to safely complete the task
There must be no other outside influences such as alcohol or drugs that may impair judgement. If one or more of these basic environmental requirements are not correct, the situation is less than perfect and a drop in performance will result.

Vision and Reaction
The main source of information obtained when driving is that which is seen by the driver. Modern roads are engineered so as to give visual clues as to the legal aspects such as speed limits, rights of way at junctions, etc. together with information signs such as route signs, direction signs etc. Paint applied to the carriageway also forms part of the visual clue library, passing information direct to the driver via their eyes. It is therefore reasonable to expect that all drivers have an adequate level of eyesight with an acceptable level of acuity in order to accurately decipher this visual information. Sadly, that...
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