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Scientists seek reckless drivers

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The Transport Ministry and Czech Technical University (ČVUT) are launching a project to identify aggression and recklessness on the roads. Cameras installed inside passenger cars, buses and trucks will monitor other drivers. The recordings might even be used by police to investigate offences or crime.

Czech roads will be monitored by volunteers in 10 vehicles. “We picked busy routes around the country. The cameras will be installed inside the vehicles of the Faculty of Transportation Sciences and other contractual partners. The recordings will then be evaluated by experts by the end of the year,” Zuzana Lisá from BESIP, author of the project, told Tý

Acquired recordings might not be used for scientific purposes only. According to Leoš Tržil, the head of the transport police, it cannot be ruled out that the police will use the shooting as evidence in offence proceedings. “It would depend on the quality of the footage. We will use it if the driver is recognisable,” he said.

Another part of the project will place drivers laboratories and have them drive on simulators. Experts from the faculty will monitor their neurological reactions. “We are the only one in the country with the special NIRO 200 equipment that allows us to take a look inside brain with the help of infrared rays,” said Mirko Novák from ČVUT.

Lisá added that a similar research has not yet been done anywhere else. “This topic has always been handled through public opinion polls. In the Czech Republic we also have the advantage of elaborate statistics that we can use,” she said. The results of the research, subsidised by CZK 2 million from the Transport Ministry, will be available in September 2010.

Lisá has already participated in a similar project on a smaller scale. She discovered, monitoring roads in Prague and the surroundings, including the initial kilometres of the D1 motorway, that a driver encounters aggressive or reckless behaviour every six minutes on average. I was very surprised by this frequency. I expected it to be very 15 minutes,” Lisá said.

Male drivers were the aggressors in 91% of all cases. Men are infuriated by hindrances such as when someone drives slowly in the passing lane or does not start swiftly enough on green light. Women are disturbed by feeling threatened. “For example, when someone drives very closely behind them or when they think someone wants to push them out,” Lisá said.

According to Lisá, weather also influences aggression. “It is mainly before storms, maybe as the pressure is changing and people get headaches, when the drivers are very reckless. Aggression also increases on Fridays when the drivers are in a hurry to leave town after a week at work,” she said.

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