Transport safety and human factors in the era of automation: What can transport modes learn from each other?

Eleonora Papadimitriou, Chantal Schneider, Juan Aguinaga Tello, Wouter Damen, Max Lomba Vrouenraets, Annebel ten Broeke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


One of the main aims of introducing automation in transport is to improve safety by reducing or eliminating human errors; it is often argued however that this may induce new types of errors. There is different level of maturity with automation in different transport modes (road, aviation, maritime and rail), however no systematic research has been conducted on the lessons learned in different sectors, so that they can be exploited for the design of safer automated systems. The aim of this paper is to review the impact of key human factors on the safety of automated transport systems, with focus on relevant experiences from different transport sectors. A systematic literature review is carried out on the following topics: the level of trust in automation – in particular the impact of mis-aligned trust, i.e. mistrust vs overreliance, the resulting impact on operator situation awareness (SA), the implications for takeover control from machine to human, and the role of experience and training on using automated transport systems. The results revealed several areas where experiences from the aviation and road domain can be transferable to other sectors. Experiences from maritime and rail transport, although limited, tend to confirm the general patterns. Remarkably, in the road sector where higher levels of automation are only recently introduced, there are clearer and more quantitative approaches to human factors, while other sectors focus only on mental modes. Other sectors could use similar approaches to define their own context-specific metrics. The paper makes a synthesis of key messages on automation safety in different transport sectors, and presents an assessment of their transferability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105656
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Aviation
  • Human factors
  • Maritime
  • Rail
  • Road
  • Safety
  • Transport automation

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