“Braking bad”: The influence of haptic feedback and tram driver experience on emergency braking performance

Tiziana C. Callari, Louise Moody, Michael Mortimer, Hans Stefan, Ben Horan, Stewart Birrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Trams are experiencing a resurgence with worldwide network expansion driven by the need for sustainable and efficient cities. Trams often operate in shared or mixed-traffic environments, which raise safety concerns, particularly in hazardous situations. This paper adopts an international, mixed-methods approach, conducted through two interconnected studies in Melbourne (Australia) and Birmingham (UK). The first study involved qualitative interviews, while the second was an experimental study involving a virtual reality (VR) simulator and haptic master controller (i.e., speed lever). In tram operations, master controllers play a critical role in ensuring a smooth ride, which directly influences passenger safety and comfort. The objective was to understand how a master control system, enhanced with additional haptic feedback, could improve tram driver braking performance and perceptions in safety-critical scenarios. Interview results indicate that the use of the emergency brake is considered the final or ultimate choice by drivers, and their driving experience is a moderating factor in limiting its application. Combined with the experimental results, this paper highlights how implementing haptic feedback within a master controller can reduce the performance disparity between novice and experienced tram drivers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104206
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Early online date22 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/),
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
provided the original work is properly cited..


This research has been sponsored by Coventry University (UK) through the Grant Scheme “Cross-Centre International and Interdisciplinary Pilot Projects” (Award No 13705-03) and has received support by Deakin University (Australia).


  • Emergency braking
  • Haptic feedback
  • Road safety
  • Streetcar
  • Tram

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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