Human Factors & Risk Homeostasis Involved in the Design of an Automobile

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This assignment was meant to cover Human Factors and how risk homeostasis is involved. The product that we have chosen to investigate is the everyday common car. Cars are used in everyday life by almost everyone. The car is a good subject to look at because it is so common and people may take many parts of it for granted. Risk homeostasis looks at the amount of risk a person is willing to take despite the cautions, warning labels, etc. Cars generally come with a large book full of these generally called the owner's manual. Most people in general tend to ignore the manual and most times do not even open the book in general. In the following paper typical cars processes, parts, or systems will be investigated to see how human factors and risk homeostasis has been affected.

Antilock Brake Systems

Antilock brake systems have become the norm on all vehicles today. When your wheels lock up on wet or slippery roads or during a panic stop, you may lose traction and control, causing the vehicle to spin. Antilock brakes keep your wheels from locking up, so the car maintains directional control around hazards if it can't make a complete stop in time. Antilock brake systems (ABS) work with the car's regular braking system by automatically pumping them. In vehicles not equipped with ABS, the driver has to manually pump the brakes to prevent wheel lockup. In vehicles equipped with ABS, while the foot of the driver remains firmly planted on the brake pedal, ABS will pump the brakes so that the driver can concentrate on steering to safety. This process is controlled by computers and happens at a very rapid pace.

Activating ABS

When faced with a panic braking situation, ABS allows a driver to rapidly apply the brakes without worrying about wheel lockup, and the vehicle begins to stop immediately. Without ABS, a rapid, hard brake application could cause wheel lockup and loss of vehicle steering control, if the driver does not pump the brakes correctly or limit the brake pedal force to prevent wheel lockup. Therefore, more driver skill is needed to obtain short stops without ABS. However, because of this technology people have developed a dependence on the ABS system. Stopping distances allowed by the driver have decreased because they believe that ABS is superior to the traditional pumping of the brakes. It is a misperception that ABS will lead to shorter stopping distances. As this may be in some cases true, ABS cannot overcome the common laws of physics. Drivers also need less concentration on what they are doing because ABS is supposed to give you complete control of the vehicle during the panic stop. Drivers want to go around curves faster, change lanes abruptly or perform other aggressive steering maneuvers. ABS should not encourage this type of driving and warnings are seen throughout the owner's manual against this type of driving.

Correct Procedure

There are correct ways to operate the ABS that most people are unaware of. A person should maintain firm and continuos pressure on the brake while steering to enable ABS to work properly. Pumping of the brake should not be done even if the brake begins to pulsate. The brake pulsating is a sign that the ABS is working properly. It is important for people to understand that not all cars have four wheels ABS. This means that all of your wheels have ABS. If you only have rear wheel ABS the front wheels can still lock up in a panic situation and pressure must be relieved from the brake pedal to gain control of the steering again.

Risk Homeostasis

Some recommendations can be for people to have a course during driver's education with panic stops and using ABS to familiarize themselves with the sensation and process. Risk homeostasis overcomes this by parents being allowed to teach their children driver today. A parent is less likely to take their child to an empty lot and perform panic situations to better acquaint their child. Before purchasing a car...
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