POSTPONED: Optical Illusions and Life-Threatening Traffic Crashes—Don Redelmeier, M.D.

Thu, Apr 2, 2020, 4:30 pm

Traffic crashes are a major cause of death, disability, and economic losses. The majority are caused by driver error and could be prevented by a small change in driver behavior. In this public presentation, Don Redelmeier, M.D., Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto and an expert in medical decision science, reviews the general background on driving risks and offers a new study of life-threatening traffic crashes. As almost all real-time information for driving involves eyesight (minor feedback from tactile, auditory, and labyrinthine systems) and because traffic is tightly packed and fast moving, Redelmeier and colleagues hypothesize that optical illusions may contribute to life-threatening crashes.  The study interpretation emphasizes an optical illusion akin to aerial perspective bias for artists, aviators, and mountaineers in bright sunlight. For drivers, the same illusion may contribute to excessive speed on sunny days with a subsequent loss of control and life-threatening consequences. 


Dr. Redelmeier serves as the Canada Research Chair in Medical Decision Sciences; Professor at the University of Toronto; Director of Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; Staff Physician in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Canada’s largest trauma hospital); and a Senior Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Studies in Ontario. His research spans a variety of areas emphasizing the psychology of decision making and the epidemiology of motor vehicle trauma.

An expert in medical decision science, Dr. Redelmeier has published over 250 articles in the scientific medical literature. Some of his notable discoveries include “Association between cellular-telephone calls and motor vehicle collisions” (N Engl J Med, 1997), “Driving fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday” (N Engl J Med, 2003), and “Physician warnings for unfit drivers and the risk of trauma from a road crash” (N Engl J Med, 2012).  Dr. Redelmeier received his MD degree from University of Toronto, completed postgraduate training in Internal Medicine at Stanford University, and obtained a Masters degree in Health Services Research as a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar at Stanford University.

During Spring 2020 Don will be on campus as part of the Langfeld Behavioral Science Residency, sponsored by the Department of Psychology's Langfeld Visiting Lectureship program and the Kahneman-Treisman Center.

Due to cautionary COVID-19 guidance, this event will be postponed.

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