Transportation landscape and mental health and driving performance

Journal Artical

Not Just More, but More Diverse: Green landscapes Along Urban Roads may Significantly Reduce Drivers’ Psychophysiological Fatigue

Transportation Research Part F: Psychology and Behaviour, 2024, IF= 4.1

The impact of roadside greenness on driving fatigue in real urban settings has been insufficiently investigated, presenting a critical knowledge gap for researchers, policymakers, professionals, and the public. In this onsite driving experiment, 34 urban residents completed seven driving tasks on different urban road routes in a randomized order with one-day intervals. A total of 238 tasks were conducted, each lasting an hour, assessing psychophysiological, visual, and muscular fatigue. A cardiovascular activity monitor (BioHarness) continuously measured the driver’s heart rate, with lower rates indicating reduced psychophysiological fatigue. Visual and muscular fa-tigue were self-reported using a Visual Analog Scale questionnaire administered before, at the midpoint, and after completing the driving task. Deep transfer learning semantic segmentation analyzed road landscape characteristics and traffic conditions recorded from the drivers’ view. Statistical analysis demonstrated that higher mean and variation in greenness significantly pre-dicted lower psychophysiological fatigue after adjusting for multiple covariates. These results indicate that enhancing both the quantity and diversity of green landscapes along urban roads is vital for reducing driver’s psychophysiological fatigue. This study reveals that roadside land-scapes in urban settings are not trivial decorations, and they should be considered an essential component of transportation infrastructure.   

Moderate is Optimal: A Simulated Driving Experiment Reveals Freeway Landscape Matters for Driving Performance

Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 2021, IF= 5.766

Driving on freeways is a daily activity across the world. Poor driving performance on freeways can cause severe injuries and deaths. However, few studies have examined whether and to what extent different types of freeway landscapes influence driving performance. A simulated driving task was designed to measure the impacts of six types of freeway landscape on 33 participants’ driving performance. Each participant completed a driving experiment with six blocks of 90-minute driving sessions in a random sequence. During the experiment, participants’ driving performance was measured through eight parameters. A set of repeated-measure one-way ANOVA analyses show that landscapes with three-dimensional branch and foliage (shrub & tree) were generally more beneficial for driving performance than barren (concrete-paved ground) or low green landscape conditions (turf). Furthermore, a repeated-measure two-way ANOVA analysis of four conditions with vertical green foliage (two shrub and two tree conditions) showed moderate levels of greenness and complexity are optimal for driving performance.

Analyzing the Effects of Nature Exposure on Perceived Satisfaction with Running Routes: An Activity Path-based Measure Approach

Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 2022, IF= 5.766

Studies on the linkages between nature exposure and physical activities often focus simply on the immediate vicinity of home locations, but path-based exercises, such as running and cycling, are continuous activities and cover a broad spatial extent. Thus, the traditional home buffer approach fails to acknowledge the settings where road running actually occurs. This study employed an activity path-based measure approach using public participation GIS (PPGIS) to investigate the associations between running satisfaction and nature exposure. The mapped routes (N=545) that included an assessment of satisfaction level were collected from 249 runners resided in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland. Logistic regression analyses revealed a positive association between running satisfaction and nature exposure, including eye-level greenness, top-down greenness and blue space density. Top-down greenness was assessed by Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and the eye-level greenness by Green View Index (GVI), the latter one of which uses a deep learning algorithm. Running environment was more satisfying in those routes with more public transport nodes. Other traffic-related factors breaking the momentum of runners such as traffic light density were inversely related to running satisfaction. Demographic characteristics such as education background also played a significant role in the perceived satisfaction with running routes. The positive impacts of nature exposure on running satisfaction further verify the linkages between landscape and public health.

Perceived Green at Speed: A Simulated Driving Experiment Raises New Questions for Attention Restoration Theory and Stress Reduction Theory

Environment and Behavior, 2020, IF= 6.548

Few studies have investigated the impact of landscapes on humans’ mental status while they are moving at high speeds, such as driving on the freeway. This study used a simulation system to measure drivers’ mental responses to six different freeway landscapes. Each of the 33 participants completed six different 90-minute simulated driving tasks in a randomly assigned sequence. The six landscape conditions consisted of an identical freeway infrastructure, with different roadside landscapes. Results show significant differences between landscape conditions and drivers’ mental responses. Landscape conditions with greater greenness, in general, had a greater positive impact on drivers’ mental status. The barren and tree regular landscapes yielded the worst and best results, respectively. Further, higher complexity was associated with a higher level of negative mental status. We argue that the speed of human’s active movement should be considered as an essential factor in the Attention Restoration Theory and Stress Reduction Theory.