Habits, routines, and comfort can turn into complacency, which can affect our perception of how risky a simple task may be. By thinking we do not need to pay much attention to certain activities because we have performed them many times before, we are potentially ignoring the risk and increasing our chances of being injured or killed.

Fine tuning of an activity can make us work on ‘autopilot’, increasing the probability of making mistakes and missing a change in the environment that could increase risk.

Familiarity with a task can lead to complacency which makes us think we do not need to follow protocols and can take short-cuts, which can increase the risk.

This package contains:

  • A generic overview of Toolbox Talk Discussion and how it can be applied to work driving safety, including a step by step process to assist team leaders/managers and facilitators to lead a Toolbox Talk discussion.

  • Aid for the promotion of discussion

  • Topic background information and fact sheets

  • Discussion prompt sheet

  • Participant attendance record sheet

  • Participant self-assessment sheet

  • Discussion review sheet

  • Habits & Familiarity poster

  • Supporting PowerPoint Slides

  • Habits & Familiarity Video Link (access video here or contact NRSPP to download)

Author Acknowledgement

This Toolbox Talk has been developed in collaboration with Jerome Carslake (NRSPP), Jennifer Rivera-Gonzalez (MUARC), Kyla Fantin (NRSPP Swinburne Intern 2021/22), Ruby Athanas (NRSPP Swinburne Intern 2021/22),  Tim Roberts (FleetStrategy).

Toolbox Talks Branding, marketing and promotional videos were completed by the Swinburne Design Bureau: Dr Shivani Tyagi (Communication Design Lecturer Swinburne and Director of Design Bureau), Kai Djeng (videos and editing), Emelia Cox (videos and editing), Amanda Wang (videos and editing) Lachlan Tobin (marketing and communications), Lauren Gualano (branding and logo design).

Toolbox Talks Steering Group includes: James Zarb (Viva Energy), Craig Beikoff (BINGO Industries), Jim Sarkis (BINGO Industries), Mark Noble (Holcim), Daniel Brain (Toll Group), Adam Ritzinger (Toll Group), Peter Johansson (Zurich), Steve Power (Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia), Mike Mulligan (Qube).


  1. HNI, “Driving Complacency: Why Seasoned Drivers Can Pose A Serious Risk”.
  2. Airswift, “Complacency Leads to Accidents,” [Online]. Available: https://www.airswift.com/about/safety/complacency-leads-to-accidents. [Accessed 2021].
  3. Budget Direct, “Distracted Driving Survey & Statistics 2021,” 2021.
  4. D. Stacom, “Complacency can be driving hazard: Motorists used to bad road conditions might forget danger; Storm after storm,” Hartford Courant, 2014.
  5. Monash University, “Monash study finds truck driving among Australia’s most dangerous jobs,” 2018.
  6.  C. Caponecchia, “It Won’t Happen to Me: An Investigation of Optimism Bias in Occupational Health and Safety,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 601-617, 2010.
  7. Pro-Sapien, “The Danger of Routine and Complacency in the Workplace”.
  8. P. Bigelow, “LEARNING BY DEADLY EXAMPLE: Aviation disasters offer valuable lessons for auto industry about the dangers of ‘automation complacency’,” Automotive News, vol. 95, no. 6987, p. S024, 2021.
  9. National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP), “Webinar: Uniting Care Queensland’s Road Safety Journey,” 2020.
  11. National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP), “Wet Weather Driving,” 2021.
  12. BROD Injury Law Firm, “Complacent Drivers: How Being Too Comfortable Behind the Wheel Leads to More Accidents,” 2017.