An afternoon summer rain shower led to an elderly woman’s admittance to the hospital. Mrs. Jones, aged 68, entered a retail store to buy groceries for her visiting family. Mrs. Jones walked through the store’s vestibule toward the entrance where she slipped and fell, sustaining significant injuries. An investigation was conducted to determine the cause of the slip and fall incident.
Falls were the number one cause of preventable non-fatal injuries and the number two cause of preventable deaths in the US in 2019 (CDC and NEISS data). Slip and falls occur when there is an unexpected loss of traction between a person’s foot and the walking surface. Slip and falls are common and can occur in any setting where people walk, including homes, workplaces, and public areas. Slip and falls can result in serious injuries, particularly for older adults.
The human gait cycle consists of four phases: Read More
Play is an essential part of childhood development as children learn through play. Public playgrounds provide an environment for children to develop physical, behavioral, and cognitive skills. Though an essential aspect of childhood development, public play areas can also provide an opportunity for serious injuries and fatalities. In 2020, 120,829 children sustained serious injuries Read More
A 43-year-old man driving his small vehicle northbound in the right lane of a rural two-lane paved road, was on his way to his favorite hunting spot in the early morning. He had two passengers with him—one in his front passenger seat and one in his back left seat. It was dark outside, and the weather was clear and dry. Along the rural two-lane road were large wooded private properties with no ambient lighting illuminating the roadway. Further up the road, a log truck began to turn left onto the road. Unable to entirely turn left in one fluid movement, the log truck Read More
An alarming 6,516 pedestrians were killed, and 54,769 pedestrians were injured as a result of traffic crashes in 2020 (NHTSA, 2022). A large majority (77%) of these pedestrian fatalities occurred in low luminance conditions such as nighttime while only 20% occurred in daylight (NHTSA, 2022). This dramatic difference between pedestrian fatalities during the night and day is seen even when controlling for driver fatigue and alcohol consumption (Owens & Sivak, 1996). This phenomenon prompts the question as what is so dangerous about being a pedestrian at night? Read More
Visibility aids, such as lighting, reflectors, and fluorescent material, are marketed to vulnerable road users (VRUs) like pedestrians and bicyclists as a way to enhance their safety on the road. These visibility aids increase the VRU’s contrast within the roadway environment therefore increasing their visibility. However, increasing visibility does not necessarily mean enhancing conspicuity. For example, the key difference between a visible pedestrian and a conspicuous pedestrian is that a visible pedestrian is distinguishable from their background whereas a conspicuous pedestrian “grabs” the driver’s visual attention. Read More
There are various visibility aids marketed for vulnerable road users (VRUs). Here, the term VRU is used to describe unprotected road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists. Visibility aids are designed to increase a VRU’s contrast within their environment, making them more distinguishable from the background to a driver. These visibility aids can include both active and passive ways to increase the VRU’s contrast, therefore their visibility. As the name implies, active visibility aids actively transmit light and are powered by a source (i.e., battery powered bicycle headlights and taillights) while passive visibility aids passively reflect light coming from outside sources (i.e., fluorescent, and retroreflective clothing).
There are a wide variety of active visibility aids to choose from on the market. For example, Read More
If there is a human involved in the case, there is a good chance that human factors theories and principles will be applicable. Human factors is the study of people interacting with their surrounding environment. A human factors expert applies their knowledge of human capabilities and limitations to each unique case to assess the physical, sensory, and cognitive factors that caused a person to behave a certain way within the surrounding environment.
Consider the following situations in which a human factors expert would be beneficial: Read More
Please join us in welcoming Human Factors Expert Ellen Szubski, Ph.D, to the WARREN family!
Ellen’s Areas of Expertise Include:
Human Factors & Safety
Slips, trips, and falls
Vehicle/Pedestrian/Bicycle Crash Investigation
Ellen Szubski is a human factors consultant with Warren. Her expertise focuses on the crash investigations and other personal injury matters. These matters often include collisions and/or crashes involving vulnerable road users and drivers, driver distraction, and slips, trips. & falls. She utilizers her knowledge of OSHA regulations, codes and standards in her analysis of premises liability incident and safety consulting.
Ellen graduated from Clemson University with a Master of Science in Applied Psychology and a Doctor of Philosophy in Human Factors Psychology. She did her dissertation on “The Influence of Pedestrian Biological Motion on Time-To-Collision Estimates at Night.” Ellen is a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomic Society (HFES) and its Forensic Professional Technical Group. She has presented multiple times at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual meetings.