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April 28, 2023

E282 - Road Rage Meets Robo-Cars

Discover how road rage affects your driving and the potential impact on self-driving cars in this week's podcast episode. Our community questions include where to find real projects to work for free, explaining UX Research to middle school students, and seeking guidance when feeling lost. Tune in now!

#podcast #selfdrivingcars #roadrage #communityquestions #UXresearch #careeradvice #projectopportunities #guidance

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Recorded live on April 27th, 2023, hosted by Nick Roome, with Heidi Mehrzad.

Check out the latest from our sister podcast - 1202 The Human Factors Podcast -on Naturalistic Decision Making - An interview with Rob Hutton:


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[00:00:00] Nick Roome: Hi everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Human Factors Cast. This is episode 282. We're recording this episode live on April 27th, 2023. And I'm your host, Nick Rome. I'm joined today by Heidi Meazza. Heidi, welcome back to the show. Hello. Hi. It's been a while since we had you on and I'm excited to talk about some stuff with you, but we'll get to that in just a minute.


On tonight's show, we'll be discussing some of the impact of road rage , and the implications for self-driving cars in the future. Later on, we'll be answering some questions from our community, including where can I find real projects to work on for free? Explaining the job of a UX researcher to middle schooler and feeling lost and needing guidance in human factors.


But first, we got some programming notes here. Just a quick update. We're gonna be off for the next two weeks for a summer hiatus. I am on a long deserved vacation. We will have some other fun, interesting things coming out your way. We have an interview with Steven Wilcox about one of the workshops from the Healthcare Symposium last month.


And if everything goes to plan, we should have the first episode of Safe and Effective Out for You All to listen to next week. Heidi, speaking of safe and Effective, that is what the big announcement, you're here. So let's talk about it. Is it coming next week? We'll see.




[00:01:21] Heidi Mehrzad: We're crossing our fingers. If all goes well, we'll record and we'll produce and we'll have an episode next week for you.


[00:01:29] Nick Roome: What can we expect in that first episode?


[00:01:32] Heidi Mehrzad: So in the first episode, we're going to do a an abbreviated episode, so to speak. We're gonna focus on regulatory wrapped up.


We are gonna have a re segment that's gonna focus on regulatory for medical device development, MedTech, med dev, bio combination products, right? The world of medical development. And within that world we live very regulated. F D A T U V M D R. These are all terms that'll be obviously familiar to people in the industry.


But those are the regulations and they bring out a lot of guidances. And we're gonna talk about one that dropped in December. So we are gonna talk a little bit about it.


[00:02:20] Nick Roome: Okay, so I have a question for you, and this is an honest question. I don't think we've actually ever talked about this. I am a human factors person.


I am not a medical human factors person. Will I still get value out of listening to this show?


[00:02:34] Heidi Mehrzad: Yeah, a hundred percent. You think I'm gonna say no? Now


[00:02:37] Nick Roome: it's all advertisement.


[00:02:39] Heidi Mehrzad: No, of course you're gonna get value because it's gonna be medical human factors. It's not always gonna be medical device development, human factors.


It's gonna be medical human factors. It's gonna be human factors talking in the sense of application to medical, healthcare, anything and e, everything that has to do with that, right? It's not always gonna be in specific to how to develop a medical device using human factors engineering, right? It's gonna be the human factors science in the medical and healthcare space.


So if you're interested in it, if you don't have any interest in that and you're not in our world, then. Value's gonna be low, but it's gonna be still educational.


[00:03:21] Nick Roome: I'm actually really excited to listen to it from a listener perspective. It is the latest in the Human Factors cast family of podcasts, and we're super happy to have you with us.


All right. So without further ado, let's get into our news story this week.


That's right. This is the part of the show all about Human Factors news. Heidi, what's up with the story this week?


[00:03:44] Heidi Mehrzad: All right. This week is gonna be about road rage. So the University of Warwick has conducted the first. Systematic study to identify behaviors of aggressive driving and the impact it can have.


The research showed that aggressive drivers tend to drive faster and also exhibit more mistakes than non-aggressive drivers. As the era of self-driving cars approaches, this poses a challenge for researchers. Aggressive driving can put the lives of other road users at risk. The research is significant because it could help autonomous vehicles identify and avoid potentially dangerous driving situations.


The lead author of this study explained that the research would enable scientists to identify dangerous driving behaviors through the use of driver monitoring systems, allowing drivers to be alerted if they are at an increased risk of an accident, and for the vehicle to deploy calming methods such as altering the cabin noise level or playing relaxation music, or ultimately reducing the speed of the vehicle.


This study shows that human error often as a result of aggressive driving, remains the most significant causes of crashes on the road. The research aims to promote safer drive driving, and to recognize the importance of driving privileges as a privilege and not an entitlement. So Nick, what are your first thoughts?


[00:05:10] Nick Roome: There's, I have two perspectives on this, and one is of somebody in an automated vehicle looking onto an aggressive driver. And that's the way that as I read this, I initially thought it was going. And so there's obviously there'd be some monitoring systems that would act very similarly, at least to how I interact on the road, which is a avoiding aggressive drivers and getting the, getting outta the way.


When they're being jerks on the road. By the definition that they use in this article. I'm probably also an aggressive driver cuz it's saying that they average about, it's very loose. Yeah. Five, five kilometers per hour. It's very loose. It just ends up being like three miles per hour faster than non-aggressive drivers.


And so that's a, that, yeah, that's a pretty, pretty low threshold to be called an aggressive driver. I mean there's also the other perspective though. So that was one perspective. The other perspective is being inside of a vehicle with semiautonomous systems on board that can detect the driver's aggression, right?


So I'm talking things like onboard systems, like adaptive cruise control or lane monitoring or anything like that. And I think that would be probably a better use of some of this technology. And I think that's where they're actually leading us towards here. Not necessarily the first scenario that I described, but Heidi, I'm interested, what is your take?


[00:06:34] Heidi Mehrzad: So curve ball. As always, I almost feel like I have a complete different take on this. I actually have major issues with this. And from an aspect of, first of all, I don't, it's not even a personal, like of the definitions in this article. I think the definitions of aggressive driving are. Like you said, very low.


When it looks at the bars like three miles per hour going faster on average I also think they're using the word incorrectly. I really do think, and they're using it wrong incorrectly in the context. So when they speak about human error, often as a result of aggressive driving, that's actually completely false.


It is a part of it. And there are so many other aspects that lead to human error. Way more important are distractions. Mental health, behavioral things, habits traffic flow, traffic influence, traffic speed. Occurrences on the road, right? Events happening, like I said, distractions.


And then there's also, we just went through a pandemic, mental health, heightened societal, cultural impeding aggressions already coming in, right? Aggressive is a really aggressive driving is a really big bowl to throw everything in. And that's where that was my initial thought.


[00:08:00] Nick Roome: I, I do wanna touch on the dis the definition, I guess a little bit to start with, because you're right.


The definition that they use for aggressive drivers it's a descriptive stat that they're saying they go five kilometers per hour mean faster than non-aggressive drivers. But I wanna focus in on this aggressive driving definition because I think this really does define the behaviors. And I think this is a good one.


I agree with you with some of the, Other definitions here, but I do wanna just mention that aggressive driving to them is categorized by any driving behavior that intentionally endangers other psychologically physically or both. Anyone who's willing to basically put their life at risk or other people's life at risk by slamming on the brakes.


See I tend to think of it as like less of an aggressive driver and more of aggressive behaviors because to categorize somebody as an aggressive driver, is it somebody who does X number of behaviors in a certain time period? Those definitions are lost on me, but there are certain things that you can definitely use to.


Describe aggressive behaviors and maybe we can focus more on that aspect of it than drivers, because everybody makes mistakes. And so if you think about, like slamming on your brakes because of something and it wasn't intended to hurt the people behind you, then is it aggressive? No, it's just dumb.


And so I'm looking at it or a mistake, it could be a mistake. So I'm giving like those actions give to get the benefit of the doubt, whereas if it was intentionally to get them to break so that way it gets the person behind them to smash into them, that's an aggressive behavior. I don't know.


Where do you wanna go with this?


[00:09:45] Heidi Mehrzad: Totally couldn't agree more. But I also I, in general really, I got really excited about the topic and then I read the article and I'm like, I have so many issues with this. I have so many issues with this because, It says in the article, it speaks to, while it's of course unethical to let aggressive drivers out on the road and study them, I get it.


Totally. I understand that they have to produce this, semi fake behavior or thinking process in the participants, but they said that they put them in an aggressive state by recalling angry memories. That's not. The definition of aggression. So I have so many issues with this study and it's a very short synopsis of what they're doing.


And I'd love to read more in detail on it, like maybe they are answering these things and bigger papers and bigger publications, right? But when I just look at it from that aspect I have a lot of issues with their approach and with their definitions and how they see certain things. And like I said, defining human error often as a result out of aggression.


Totally incorrect. We come from the world of behavioral science, right? Human factors, psychology. If there's any group on this planet who can understand the nuances, it's probably us, right? So for me, it's more about. If we wanna leave it at that and just talk about the technology, then we could focus on the technology.


I don't know if your thoughts are on that because that's like another category for me in this, right? Like having things in your car detect your mood or your behavior, and then influencing your driving, or even interfering with your driving. So that could be something we could focus


[00:11:41] Nick Roome: on.


I, yeah. And really that's where I imagined this discussion going. Yeah. The springboard, we could pick apart this article in a million different ways. Oh. Oh, I could, one being that it wasn't actually written by the people who did the study. And so yes, we could dig into that, but I think there's a lot more.


Of an interesting discussion around the technology piece and how that interacts with human behavior. Yeah. And specifically around what does it mean for a car to detect a string of aggressive behaviors? What is the threshold? There's a bunch of different directions we can go. Like I was saying from that first perspective of in cab monitoring systems to detect driver aggression using things like natural language processing to find out words and phrases that might be considered aggressive or oh, good lord.


Even the kinematics of the steering wheel and the, the consistency of the controls. So there's a bunch of different ways in which you can identify that stuff. And then the intervention methodology, what do you do? Once you've identified that the driver is aggressive.


But then we could also talk about the other cars that are on the road monitoring, for situations like that. And I think that, I think it's a, I think it's a two-pronged approach. I think we do both. Where do you wanna start?


[00:12:56] Heidi Mehrzad: I like the interference cuz it, I don't know how you feel about that, but the instant I thought of having something in my car, first of all, monitoring my driving. No, thank you sir. I do not need yet another thing that is monitoring me, and I'm not even talking about big tech. I'm not talking about being government watching conspiracy theories here.


I'm literally just, I don't need yet another tool in my car that gives me a dashboard that I have to. Divide my attention on. I just don't when I think of interference I think of n neuro divergent people. I think of me, I have a d h D do not start playing music in my car without asking me.


Do not start playing some di changing the light in my car without asking. That's frustrating me even more. Now you're asking me to be aggressive. Like a D hb, A D H D has I can only obviously speak to things I know, but has an aspect of rage issues,


[00:14:02] Nick Roome: right? Yes. I speak to that.


That's something that I dealt with.


[00:14:06] Heidi Mehrzad: There you go. We've dealt with all our lives, right? As we get older, we learn, or one, once the diagnosis comes in and we understand where it's coming from, we can learn tools and you can start managing it, but, Road rage is actually something that a d h deers often suffer from, right?


So now you're gonna start messing with me like, because you don't like how I'm driving and now you're gonna edge me even further, and you're gonna make me more and more annoyed and more and more irritated and more and more possibly aggressive. You're not fixing anything. Second of all I don't know does your card do the brake when you're too close to somebody?




[00:14:46] Nick Roome: I don't have that kinda money.


[00:14:47] Heidi Mehrzad: Yo, you can get it for very cheap Volkswagen. Very cheap.


[00:14:53] Nick Roome: I don't have that kind of money. Mine, mine does Patreon. Everybody


[00:14:57] Heidi Mehrzad: throw us a couple of dollars so Nick can have that feature in his car. But mine does, and every time it does it, it scares the living out of me.


It makes my heart race. It induces anxiety. It like gives me a tiny teen, tiny heart attack. And so these monitoring systems and then interfering with your driving by cutting something off or inducing something or starting something, I would. That again to me is yet another example of how in society we wanna develop a standard and then make everybody fit into that box.


And that is where neuro divergent people are gonna be left out. Again. People with disabilities, people with neuro divergent right? It, we're gonna be left out again and we're gonna have something where we yet have to conform to something yet again that we don't fit into. Like the nine to five, right? This setting in an office with lots of people, the big room offices.


And it is just an example for me. But that's exactly that to me, yet again. And so to me there comes a point where with all this innovation, with all this technology, why are we keep developing things that are to be. Put in standard measures opposed to fixing things for people who don't fall in the standards.


And that's where I really have issues with I don't have a problem with smaller things, but who knows? It's unique to me. Alexandra just mentioned lane detection, right? Like I turned that off on my car. I'm like, Uhuh lady, you need to stop telling me when I'm in the lane or outside of the lane.


Like I, I can't handle it. But it's it speaks to a bigger thing. And then when I think of that technology, right? So the interference is a factor for me. And then the interference is also, now when you think about having a technology like that, you also have to think about mental state.


That the driver comes with, right? So how's the system gonna know if maybe that day you are already in a heightened state, but you're doing the best you can and it's it, and it's or the traffic flows a little faster, so you are three miles over or five miles over and you are changing lanes a lot because there is construction.


Is it gonna detect those things, right? Is it gonna know that the reason why you keep changing lanes is because the traffic is directed that way? Or what's the threshold? What's the threshold again? And again, thresholds are always, how are thresholds calculated on a standard, on a average, right? On a mean.


So again it always leaves out the exceptions. And that is very, to me, is very it's a very slippery slope. I don't, yeah. And let me be very clear. If it's not gonna be a topic we need to talk about, but let's be very clear, if this comes out, insurance companies are gonna couple it to your insurance.


Oh yeah, they will. And I don't need to be ducted on my insurance for having a D H D.


[00:18:27] Nick Roome: They already have this for safe driving. So if you drive within the speed limits, or de, depending on how. Quickly and how how fast you come off and on the pedal, right?


Insurance companies have incentives for safe driving already. And you're right that this would be included in it. And I just gotta really quick, I just gotta say, you both, even Alex in the chat saying, with the lane detection and the front forward detection I gotta get a new car. Support the show right there.


The, look, here's the thing there's technology that can fix the issue, but there's also like policy that can change the issue too, right? So if you think about aggressive driving and if there's instances where we can make laws that I don't know, would punish people for driving aggressively.


So like a three strikes rule or something, where you can appeal them. Hold on. I'm, this is a controversial take, but We already, so there driving is a privilege, not a right here in the States. Okay. So the thing about that is that currently, what is the reevaluation period for a driver's license?


I haven't had to go in and take a test since I was like 16 years old. The last time I did a test was for my motorcycle license like 10 years ago. Okay. And so I haven't been tested, no one's checked me to make sure that I'm still up to date with all the standards. I'm not saying that it wouldn't be a total pain in the ass to do but if it means that less people die on the road, isn't it worth it?


Is it worth it?


[00:19:58] Heidi Mehrzad: Here's the thing. Oh, are you


[00:20:00] Nick Roome: gonna tell me that 20 minutes of your life to go get reevaluated is not worth saving a human life?


[00:20:08] Heidi Mehrzad: Oh, reevaluate it. Sure. We can have that. I'm just, I wanted to pick on the first thing you said, and that is policy. Okay. And judicial systems. Let me be very clear.


I don't want the topic to verge off of it, but Id just like to mention it. Women are losing their rights in this country as it is because of a judicial system that is based on very weird things. Let's just leave it at that. We don't have to get political, but I would not want the government to have yet another tool to oppress certain groups by taking away the rights to drive.


Because when you take away the right to drive, And I call it a right to drive because I get it. I understand you wanna talk about it being a privilege, but in this country it's not a privilege, it's a necessity. If you don't have the ability to drive a car in this country, you most often cannot even have a job.


This isn't Europe where you can take the bus or the train everywhere, and it runs every five minutes in both directions. This is a country where if you live where I live and work where I used to work, there's no connection. I either, I can't, I couldn't have had the job I had. So if you are limited to having a job within a walking distance of your home, No, that's not working in this country.


So to call it a privilege in this country is a little bit unfair. Second of all, I get what you're saying with the last time you took a test was 16 because it was one of the points I had in this thing, right? Is is so here in this country you get your driver's license when you are in a high schooler, right?


Often combined with a high school class to get your driver's license, right? You take the test when you are 16, 17, your mind thinks differently. Let me just be very clear the things I learned when I was 16, if they were from a textbook, oh good lord, I've forgotten those. And another thing is, okay, let's say we get reevaluated. I actually would love that idea, right? But when I look at the ability of drivers in my vicinity, and I don't even have to say country because I can't say country cuz I don't, I can't speak for every state, but in my area, traffic circles is nobody understands them.




[00:22:45] Nick Roome: When you say traffic circles, you mean


[00:22:46] Heidi Mehrzad: roundabouts, whatever you wanna call 'em. Circle traffic circles, roundabouts.


[00:22:49] Nick Roome: Despite them being magnitude safer.


[00:22:53] Heidi Mehrzad: Exactly. Nobody gets them. It's like a mystery. It's like everybody guesses Ooh, do I get to go in now? Do I have the right of way that I'm in?


Do I have the right of way coming in? What is the situation here? And it, if that can leave a situation unanswered, nobody learns it because nobody has to. And that's to your point, because we never have to get reevaluated, right? So if you got your license before that was a thing. You never have to learn the rules of that again.


And I get it, but like it goes to so many things that I have real sincere issues with without being like pointing fingers at America's problem of driving education. I noticed I always and this was one thing I wrote down in my notes. So again, I grew up in Europe. I got my license In Germany, there is real stringent rules on how you get your license there and there it is a privilege and it is costly privilege, right?


So we pay thousands and thousands for our driver's license, and you have to have a minimum of hours and you have to have types of practice. You have to show highway roads and night driving and backing in and up the hill and parking and city driving and this and that. And and even if you don't if you don't have an automa no, it's the other way around.


If you don't have a manual drive, you're still gonna learn on a manual drive. Because if you learn on an. Automatic that's written in your license, like you're only allowed to drive automatic cars then. So there's a lot of things that are differently when it comes to a driving culture, right?


And so when I think of that, what always fascinated me driving here and still till this day fascinates me and induces a little road rage made I add is how on the interstate or highway? Interstate why is it okay here to just block the left lane? Why is it, why is that okay here? Why is that okay here?


And it has to do with this. With this attitude of policing each other of, if I'm driving the speed limit, then I should be allowed to stay in this lane because I don't need to pull over. I'm going speed limit. And if you're not going


[00:25:14] Nick Roome: speed limit, it's the limit. It like, it doesn't, the limit doesn matter means that you don't go above that.


It is the doesn't limit.


[00:25:23] Heidi Mehrzad: You can say it four more times. I don't care. It doesn't matter. It's the limit. You're not a police car. You do not get to police me. If I choose to drive faster and I wanna flow with the traffic, then move over. You should not be blocking the left lane. And that induces rage behavior in people.


So what we're doing.


[00:25:43] Nick Roome: But here's the thing is it's the limit. They are within them, all right? Get to stay in their lane because are you being serious right now? Yes, they are going, no, the maximum amount of speed that they can go on the highway because it says 65 miles per hour. No. Therefore, I'm not going to drive faster than that because it is against the limit.


I don't understand why people think it's okay to go faster than the speed limit. All


[00:26:11] Heidi Mehrzad: right? First of all, you're getting a little ragy right now. Second of all, second. Second of all, you need to come off of your high horse. It is not for you. To make that rule, you do not police others. You are endangering others by doing that.


Why? And I'm saying endangering because when the traffic is flowing, you are holding up the traffic by doing that. And if your car says you're going 65, you might be going 63, somebody else might be going 66. They're all not completely correctly showing the exact speed. So what you're causing is people to drive too close to each other, annoying each other, hitting their brakes intermittently, and you are just making the road unsafe.




[00:26:59] Nick Roome: that, here's the deal, is that aggressive behavior? Because I am going the speed limit though it is


[00:27:05] Heidi Mehrzad: aggressive behavior to not move out of the way when you know and good that you are holding up traffic. If you're driving speed limit, I don't care. You have to look at it from a point of view where you, Nick, are not alone on the road.


[00:27:22] Nick Roome: No, I absolutely agree. And defensive


[00:27:23] Heidi Mehrzad: driving, you decide to drive that way. 65. If the speed limit is 65, that's perfectly fine. I understand your point of view. What I'm saying is you cannot make you a singular control. You cannot police others. So the rule is, and it is actually, if you look it up, the rule is to move out of the way for faster traffic.


It has nothing to do with speed limit. So you thinking because you're going speed limit, right? And that gives you the right to block the left lane forever, infinitely. Is not okay because you No,


[00:28:04] Nick Roome: I'm just saying you don't know. I don't get mad at people who drive the speed limit in the left lane. That's all I'm saying is I don't get mad at them.


They're going the limit. And here's the, I think we're, I agree with you that it is dangerous because what happens is when you go the speed limit in the left lane, what happens is that people who are behind you start going and passing you on your right, which makes it an infinite cycle where you can't get out of that lane.


I agree with you. I'm right there with you. I'm just saying the limit is the limit. You shouldn't go faster than the limit I get in this fight all the time because why do you not go faster than the limit? Because you will get pulled over. Okay. Which means you are doing something that is against the law.


You're look,


[00:28:43] Heidi Mehrzad: you are looking at it from a such a privileged point. Oh my God, I cannot believe you have that viewpoint because. There's other factors that come into driving, right? Have you ever seen trucks? Trucks don't drive speed limit. So let's be very clear. Trucks don't go speed limit. So when you're blocking the left lane, because you are going speed limit, and a speed limit is the law, and you shouldn't go against the law and yada yada, that truck does not care.


And what they're gonna do is they're gonna push you and push you and push you and push you. And there's a 16 footer behind you, or freight truck, whatever it is, and you're in a little car. Get out of the way. Get out of the way, let the faster traffic move past you, and then go back in the left lane if you're so married to the left, right?


But this ignorant thinking of that, you get to police others, endangers others. And that is actually, and that's where it I, that's the why to me, it applies to this topic. That's rage inducing. That's aggressiveness, induc aggressive behavior inducing to other people. You're irritating people.


And if somebody's having a bad day, now you're just asking for it. And that's what I mean. There's no group think anymore. There's no think about your others anymore. There's no empathy for others anymore. There's no, maybe somebody's having a shitty day


[00:30:15] Nick Roome: move over. I'm, look, Heidi, I'm completely in agreement with you.


I'm taking a contrarian opinion here. I think, look, it's, there's, it's more than


[00:30:23] Heidi Mehrzad: that. It's, you're, no, you're right. It's more than that. It's not just the driving in the left lane. It's also what,


[00:30:29] Nick Roome: always the entitlement on the road. The


[00:30:31] Heidi Mehrzad: entitlement on the road. No, I agree with you. I agree with you.


This shoulder. H how many times do you see somebody using their blinker when they cha change lanes on the highway? Forget about it. Forget about it. First of all, using it. I barely ever see it again. I may should add, I live in Massachusetts, so driving over here is different. But also has everybody forgotten that they're supposed to look over their shoulder when they change lanes?


Because mean, I can't tell, like I can't tell anymore because all I ever see is people go shit, no blinker, no nothing, shit. Oh, I'm alone on the road. So the, that, all these things are factors for me where I am wondering, would the system, that monitoring system would it take certain things into account?


Is it gonna penalize me for subverting a dangerous situation? Because it thinks I am being aggressive, but really I'm being abrupt because somebody else is be like, how does that work? So


[00:31:38] Nick Roome: I don't know. And here's where I'm at with the whole thing because I, I think we both agree that the right solution isn't necessarily interfering with somebody's driving because for one reason or another, it can either enrage you even further, it can cause you to take even more erratic action.


There are certain things that you can do from a policy perspective, like implementing some regular recurring evaluations that would help and assist with this type of thing. And in case anyone is interested in that larger conversation about inequality, marginalization, and what the US has done to sprawling communities and speed limits and all that stuff as.


As heated as I got on the 65 mile per hour speed limit thing. There's some we had a discussion on the show. It was I'll actually bring this up, episode 212 where we talk about speed affecting transportation planning, and we talked a lot about the sprawl of communities and how it's really unequal because you need to get from one place to another.


That being said, that discussion lives there. For this, there's policy, there's technology intervention, but I think we're both in agreement that it doesn't belong in the aggressive car. I'm arguing that it belongs in every other car on the road that can alert their drivers to erratic behavior happening.


So if you have some sort of onboard system that says, Hey, look out for this, a-hole over here because he's going 65 miles per hour in the left hand lane, that would be a more effective system, a more effective system, and a more effective solution for still cars still piloted by humans, right? Or the autonomous vehicles could make their own actions, but.


For systems where humans are still the driver, that might be the happy medium there. And


[00:33:21] Heidi Mehrzad: If it really would say, look for the a-hole, I would buy the software. Yeah, I would totally, oh, I'd be in,


[00:33:27] Nick Roome: yeah. Yeah. I'd be, if it


[00:33:28] Heidi Mehrzad: would say lookout, there's another, a-hole or another mass hole. Yeah. Yeah. I would totally be in.


But I actually agree a hundred percent with that one because I think, yeah, if it wants to alert me Waze, right? That's what it's called. Waze has these little like popups. If it, oh my God, wouldn't it be so funny if it had like a little emoji, a little brown emoji,


[00:33:54] Nick Roome: if you could tag cars that like, say, this is an a-hole, and if it gets enough reports, it elevates it and


[00:33:59] Heidi Mehrzad: that'd be cool.


Yeah. That would be I don't know that's going into the realm of bullying again but it's aggregated


[00:34:05] Nick Roome: data, so you'd need a certain AGR amount of agreement among other drivers around you before it would flag you.


[00:34:11] Heidi Mehrzad: But let me just be clear. The swifties are like, they can do anything, right?


They can hack any system. True. But like I, I would be, yeah, I would be more interested in something that would be more like a detection kind of software. I think it's very dangerous to interfere with human machines. And we could take this way further, but I think we're gonna leave it at that.


But I'm just gonna hint towards Some of the most, horrific accidents with human error, when you think about it, because they rely on automated systems and because they have handed it off to humans and humans rely on interfaces and then these interfaces detect something wrong or don't, or some, there's a glitch, reasons model, one event leads to event leads to catastrophic, right?


So that would be very troublesome to have something there that, that automates something that shouldn't be automated. And that goes into the world of ai. We can take this so much further, right? There, there needs to be some kind of, I personally think is there's a lot of talks out there and I think they're very fascinating when people talk about how.


Technology is great until it isn't. And there needs to be a threshold and we need to be more cognizant of putting thresholds in that, that stop us from moving towards a certain point because we're losing control of what makes us humans, what makes humanity human, right? If we're gonna get hand everything over, and so I, yeah I don't feel comfortable with something yet. Another thing interfering with me when I'm already getting many heart attacks from my


[00:35:51] Nick Roome: breaking system. I feel you there, Heidi? Any other closing thoughts? Get out of the left lane.


[00:35:59] Heidi Mehrzad: I'd love to have a neon. I have debated buying a neon sign that blinks up and says, get out of the way.


But On that thought? No. Any other thoughts? Yeah. Maybe we should all donate a couple of blocks so Nick can have a better car.


[00:36:15] Nick Roome: Just so I can drive 65 in the left lane. No, I think there's, this is a multifaceted issue and it's really interesting how all of it ties together, especially with aggression and automated vehicles.


And as we move closer to full autonomy, we're not going to reach that point on the road for a very long time. And so needing to develop systems that understand human intention and understand conditions on the road that interpret it and can relay that information to other drivers, I think is probably the most important aspect of this.


And that's, I'm glad we really focused the conversation more on, towards the end there, at least on on the solutions within the other cars because, The solutions within a cab to alter your driving behaviors. Not gonna fly well. Could actually end up making more of a mess. All right. Thank you to our patrons and everyone for selecting our topic this week, and thank you to our friends over at the University of Warwick for our news story.


If you wanna follow along, we do post the links to all the original articles on our weekly roundups in our blog. You can also join us on our Discord for more discussion on these stories and much more. We're gonna take a quick break and we'll be back to see what's going on in the human factors community right after this.


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[00:40:21] Heidi Mehrzad: It came from.


[00:40:23] Nick Roome: That's right. It's time for, it came from. This is the part of the show where we search all over the internet to bring you topics the community is talking about. If you find any of these answers useful give us a, like, wherever you're watching or listening to help other people find this content.


Alright, we have three up tonight. This one is by SIGs on the user experience subreddit. They write, where can I find a real project to work for free? They write, where can I find a no-cost ux, ui, or Human Factors Design Projects to build my portfolio? I'm wondering if there's a website or place where I can find actual design projects for free, like for charities or startups or human factors, cast labs that need a website or app.


I wanna showcase my skills by working on real client projects, even if I won't get paid for now. Can you help me find some options? Heidi, what do you think?


[00:41:12] Heidi Mehrzad: Your voices are hilarious Tonight. I'm on one.


[00:41:17] Nick Roome: This is roll. You're the man about to go on vacation. This is,


[00:41:20] Heidi Mehrzad: you're on a roll there. Little ragy, little voicey.


Oh, it's all, it's a treat tonight with Nick. I actually, that's why I said earlier, before we went live, I was like, this is all you, because I have worked in nothing but regulated industries. There are no free projects. There is poorly paid projects. If you wanna get, very little, if they free for you, then I would consider government contracts.


I know that the VA always looks for volunteers on their UIs. I know that there's plenty of government contracts out there. Or government contracts, government work, where they have very little funding. So they are, help, they're happy with everybody who can help out, but it free per se.


Where you can practice you're, to me, this is two things, right? You're looking for practice work, and because you are practicing, you are willing to do it for free, but nobody really wants your practice work. So I would consider like that a little, like depending on what you're trying to practice, then you could maybe offer some freelance work for companies, startups, right?


Something like that. Where it's not that high risk, high, value kind of thing. I know startups always are helpful are happy for any help, helpful person or helping hand. So that's the couple of things that I would think of.


[00:42:50] Nick Roome: Yeah. Hey, we have a lab so I don't know, maybe the lab, but also the lab and have you herd.


We have a lab. I think there's say it again. Say it again. Lab. The lab. No. So look, there's a couple options for you. There's plenty of websites that connect you with volunteer organizations out there that will list a task. And here's the thing with volunteer work, is that both parties understand that it's volunteer work.


And so that motivation needs to be intrinsic in the sense that the person who is the volunteer i e you in this scenario, you need to have an intrinsic motivation to complete the project because the expectation for the person that you're volunteering for is that they're not gonna get it done because it's a volunteer position and.


If anyone volunteers with the lab, my expectation is that you get nothing done. And that's an okay and reasonable expectation to have that work needs to come from you. And that's part of the reason why you don't see a whole lot of these opportunities where people go, Hey, I need volunteers to do this big massive project because either p people are gonna burn out in the middle of it, realize they're not getting paid for work that they should get paid for or decide that they have enough to fit into a portfolio and call it done.


And so that's why you don't see a whole lot of these opportunities just screaming out there to do work. But I would say, even beyond our lab, there are other labs out there local. Local organizations, charities, all this stuff where it helps a lot if before even engaging to them, you come to them with something and say, Hey, look, I've done some work.


I'd love to work with you just, pro bono to get this thing even a little bit further than where it is right now. I just wanted to come to you with something so you know, that I'm serious about this. And that would go a long way.


[00:44:37] Heidi Mehrzad: And that's why I mentioned like helping startup companies or helping government agencies who don't have a lot of funding where maybe you work for very little with the understanding of how that works, value, that whole paying for something qualitative and paying very low for, I would start there like if this person doesn't speak to. Exactly what type of work? Ux UI design projects could mean a lot of things, but like I know that every city in this country would love for somebody to come and revamp their website.


[00:45:15] Nick Roome: Yep. Plenty of


[00:45:16] Heidi Mehrzad: opportunities there. Plenty of opportunities there. I can just think of my city's website and, yeah. Or charities always, are thankful for any kind of input you could give. Although I have to say this is gonna be, oh God, I hope it's not controversial, but charities have nicer websites than government agencies, so I don't know


[00:45:37] Nick Roome: there.


All right, let's get into this next one here. This by, this one is by specialist admirable. One on the UX research sub they write explaining UX research job to middle school kids. The question is, how can I explain UX research and by extension, human factors in simple terms to middle school students.


I think this is a good ex exercise for all of us to do. Heidi, what are your thoughts here?


[00:46:02] Heidi Mehrzad: I'm gonna plug I'm sure she's gonna be happy about it, but I'm gonna just plug the book that Pamela wrote she wrote books for you. As for UX. And age is for human factors. And I would start there because this is what I'm guessing, you're looking exactly for simple terms, explaining what we do.


And it's very interesting. I always absolutely love these. And I think quite frankly, adults should read them too. I think so


[00:46:36] Nick Roome: too because they're great books because


[00:46:39] Heidi Mehrzad: I don't know how many more times I can handle. So what it is that you do again, can you tell me again what you, what it is exactly that you do?


Or what is human factors? Again? Can you remind me? No, I don't need to remind you. You just have never remembered in the first place. Those books are really great.


[00:47:00] Nick Roome: Yeah, those books are good. If you're talking to a younger audience or even stakeholders that don't quite understand what you do, you can start with an analogy.


I like to use the one of, how a chef, how a chef tastes their food before they give it to somebody else to make sure that it tastes good for the customers that are paying for it. We test products and services and websites and applications to make sure that they're easy to use for people and that they make people happy, right?


And again, very simple terms, right? And the other thing that you might wanna communicate is that it's all about understanding people, what they want, what they need, how they behave, what they believe to make things work better for them. And I think just keeping it very simple, designing for the user, plus the context again, like just.


That's the motto, right? Designed for the user plus the context that they're in. You have to explain what context is to a middle schooler probably, but I think that's the way to go. Simple terms. You're right though those books are going, those books are great.


[00:48:04] Heidi Mehrzad: If we're gonna go analogy, let me just add so that's funny that you brought up the soup thing.


So that's actually how we and the medical human factors often, I don't know, we, I shouldn't say we, but I've seen this example so many times. The difference between formative and summative testing and just simple terms here. Formative is as your forming the product, right? And summative is as you're validating the product, right?


So there's formative testing, usability testing, summative usability testing, and they explain formative testing as when the chef tastes the soup and summative testing when the guest tastes the soup. Perfect. So it's perfect. But as far as analogies go, what before these books came along or I knew of them, I used to explain it this way.


I ensure that you can use a product without having to read a 500 page manual. And that means that I lean on the things that we intuitively already culturally do. And that is, for instance, when you walk into a room, do you flip the switch up or down? When you use your blinker, do you go up to go left or do you go up to go?


Green means go, red means stop. Yellow means. Warning period, waiting period. Like these are the principles that we apply in human factors design or UX design. We lean on things that are already commonly known or intuitively to our nature, or from cultural standards. So that is the fact that I don't know that we still have to put on doors, press or pull because everybody has like a weird thing where, I expect a door to be pulled open, and then other people go, no, I expect that to be pressed in.


[00:49:51] Nick Roome: And then when it's mislabeled, you get raged like Nick. Oh, when he's talking about in the left hand lane and people going faster than 65 miles per hour. All right, let's get into this next one, this last one here by Commercial Street 86. On the Human Factor subreddit, they say lost need guidance.


As someone who studied human factors, I'm confused about their practical applications of my knowledge In real world scenarios, what are the actual responsibilities and duties of a human factors person in an organization? Are we only supposed to gather, collect, and disseminate data, or should we provide technical knowledge to stakeholders?


I'm unsure about the role of any human factors person and would love some guidance. Heidi, what are your thoughts on this?


[00:50:34] Heidi Mehrzad: Yeah, I'm pause. I, there's so many thoughts that I have yeah. When it comes to your roles and responsibilities I think first of all, it's dependent on what industry you work in.


Second of all, what organization you work in. I think your job should, your job description should have your roles and responsible any in there as far as real world applications, I always joke because I say that every human factors engineer on every development team always acts as the team mediator, the team counselor, the team communicator.


This is, we have to make the emails palatable to everybody. We have to explain the emails to the other people. We have to explain this to the other people, and when I say other people, engineers. And so there, there's lots of different roles and responsibilities and Real world scenarios, but I always like, always equate it to the fact though that you do come with a different background, right?


So you on average, or try not to use the word standard here, but on average should have a greater talent at communication because you understand the psychology a little bit more and the human behavior a little bit more, right? So it is often, very often the fact that you do have to evangelize. You do have to educate, you do have to allow people to understand what you are seeing and why you're seeing it and why it's valid.


Granted, this obviously speaks to exclusions of situations where you're doing it over and over again because people are not being mindful. But I'm just saying like from a get go instant, from an initial perspective. So there's a lot of. That. As far as, I don't know if it was like real world scenarios as in what kind of industries, applications, there's aviation, there's transportation, there's medical device development, there's healthcare, there's hospitals now hire human factors people to select the equipment or the software or the newest devices because they wanna make sure that their staff can understand it according to their rules, according to their organizational structure and their needs.


So there's a lot of areas now where human factors, people sit in various different roles.


[00:52:48] Nick Roome: Yeah, we do everything. And I say that like partially joking, but al also partially not, we're, I mentioned this like many times on the show we're jack of all master of none, but often better a master of one. So I think the thing here is that.


We do everything, and it will largely depend on your background and your comfort level with it. But as Barry would say, he would say something like, we're the glue that holds all the pieces together. Where, oh, yeah we're the mediator between all the different groups, but ultimately as advocates for the user.


And so are we only supposed to gather and collect and disseminate data? Yes. But should we also provide technical knowledge to stakeholders also? Yes. And a bunch of other responsibilities along those lines as well. I think ultimately it will depend on the organization that you're in, the structure of the teams, but you're going to be playing more of a role in most cases than just those two things because of that evangelist perspective that Heidi was mentioning.


So I don't know, food for thought. All right. Let's get into this last part of the show. It's just called one More Thing. All right, Heidi, what's your One more thing.


[00:54:05] Heidi Mehrzad: I don't really have a One more thing. I think my biggest thing this week was all professionally related and confidential and but one of the big things that blocked me this week again is, please don't come for me, but Microsoft teams, I swear to God, when are they ever gonna get rid of some of their bugs?


That would be one. The other one super minor. I saw yours, Nick, and I thought of the end of Ted lasso is near. I'm very sad. Yeah. How is that? I haven't watched any of that yet. Oh my God. How can you ask me such a question? How is that, describe


[00:54:43] Nick Roome: it in one word.


[00:54:44] Heidi Mehrzad: One word.


[00:54:46] Nick Roome: Yeah. A maize balls.


Okay. It's good enough for me. Is that good


[00:54:52] Heidi Mehrzad: fan? Freaking


[00:54:52] Nick Roome: fantastic. That's a good one too. Oh man. For me, there's a lot. It's love.


[00:54:58] Heidi Mehrzad: It's kind. No, it's kindness. Kindness. It's a show that is all about positivity and there's just, there's no moment where your heart isn't swelling with, oh, I wish every human was like that.


Like, why aren't we treating each other like that? It's just ugh. It's such a feel good show. And


[00:55:18] Nick Roome: it's like a warm cookie show.


[00:55:20] Heidi Mehrzad: Oh, it's a warm cookie show. But it's not fake. It's not like corny, warm cookie. Yeah. It's real. It's really real. But it deals with it in a positive warm way.


Kind way kind. I would say kind, kindness. Yeah,


[00:55:36] Nick Roome: I like it. For me, there's a bunch of things that I could talk about. I got video games coming out tonight, da going on vacation. I talked about some of these in the pre-show. I could do a Love His Blind update, but Barry's not here and I wanna know his thoughts on it.


So what I'm gonna talk about today is another piece of media called the Jury. I think it's called The Jury. Oh, geez I hope it's called the Jury. It's this new, it's this new show where basically there's this one guy who is not in on it's like the Joe Schmoe show from back in the early two thousands where everybody's in on this.


It feels a lot like the the Truman Show in that regard, where there's one guy, it's documentary crews by the guys that did the office, and it's following this guy who's going through a mock jury a mock jury duty. It's jury duty. That's what it is. And everybody on the jury is actors. All the defendant and the plaintiff and the judge are all actors.


They're all acting out. These like fantastical scenes in some ways where, you know, but it's all played off completely legitimate. And it's hilarious because this guy has no idea that he's the sinner of everything that's going on. They're all improv actors, they're all playing out this scene.


They sequestered the jury, so they're all in like a hotel and everything. It's just a really interesting and logistically complicated piece of media to put together and I just really appreciate it for that. It's funny too, so I don't know if you're interested in like the Truman Show type of thing.


Go check out jury duty. It's it's pretty great. All right, and with that's it for today. Everyone, if you like this episode and enjoy some of the discussion about, I don't know, cars and alerts and everything, there's an episode that we did a new way to alert drivers to pedestrians that has a lot of the similar themes that we were talking about in this show.


Comment, wherever you're listening with what you think of the story this week for more in-depth discussion, you can always join us on our Discord community. Visit our official news website, sign up for our newsletter, stay up to date with all the latest human factors news. If you like what you're doing, you wanna support the show, there's a couple things that you can do.


One, you can stop what you're doing, leave us a five star review. Wherever you're at, that will help us. If you have friends and want to tell them about us, then you can do that too. And if you wanna buy me a new car, you can always support us on Patreon if you have the financial means to do just a buck gets you in the door and tons of stuff coming your way for that $1 donation.


As always, links to all of our socials and our website are in the description of this episode. Heidi Zad, where can our listeners go and find you if they want to talk about driving 65 miles per hour in the left lane?


[00:58:10] Heidi Mehrzad: And as always, please don't. But you can find me on LinkedIn and on Twitter, on Insta, all under at H F U X research.


On LinkedIn, you can find me under my name as well. And yeah.


[00:58:25] Nick Roome: And coming soon. Safe and Effective, right?


[00:58:27] Heidi Mehrzad: Yes, we will have that one too. It's safe and effective underscore I believe, on Twitter. And I'm gonna get it right for next time for the install.


[00:58:41] Nick Roome: As for me, I've been your host, Nick Rome. You can find me on Discord and across social media at Nick underscore Rome.


Thanks again for tuning into Human Factors Cast. Until next time. It depends. It depends.



Heidi MehrzadProfile Photo

Heidi Mehrzad

founder and ceo

Heidi is the founder and CEO of the medical human factors and usability consultancy HFUX Research, LLC, which specializes in medical device, technology, and combination product research, design, testing, and development. With a wide-ranging background as a trained pilot, emergency medical technician, software analyst, and human factors and usability expert within the (medical) product development industry, her motivation for the past 20 years has been directed towards enhancing human-product performance by optimizing user interface design, information architecture, and user and product workflow, through the application of human factors science and usability practices. She holds patents in GUI design for medical imaging and surgical navigation software systems, a BS in Aeronautics, and a MS in Human Factors and Systems, both from ERAU, as well as technical degrees in IT Mgmt. and Emergency Medical Services, from SHU and DSC.