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      Driver's visual attention as a function of driving experience and visibility. Using a driving simulator to explore drivers’ eye movements in day, night and rain driving

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      Accident Analysis & Prevention

      Elsevier BV

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          Road crashes are the main cause of death of young people in the developed world. The reasons that cause traffic crashes are numerous; however, most researchers agree that a lack of driving experience is one of the major contributing factors. In addition it has been demonstrated that environmental factors such as driving during night and rain increases the risk of a crash. Both of these factors may be related to drivers' visual search strategies that become more efficient with increased experience. In the present study we recorded the eye movements of driving instructors and learner drivers while they drove three virtual routes that included day, night and rain routes in a driving simulator. The results showed that driving instructors had an increased sampling rate, shorter processing time and broader scanning of the road than learner drivers. This broader scanning of the road could be possibly explained by the mirror inspection pattern which revealed that driving instructors fixated more on the side mirrors than learner drivers. Also it was found that poor visibility conditions, especially rain, decrease the effectiveness of drivers' visual search. The lack of interaction between driving experience and visibility suggests that some aspects of visual search are affected by general rather than situation specific driving experience. The present findings support the effect of driving experience in modifying eye movement strategies. The high accident risk of night and rain driving could be partly explained by the decrement in visual search strategies during these conditions. Finally it is argued that the use of driving simulators can provide valuable insights regarding driving safety. Copyright (c) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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          Author and article information

          Accident Analysis & Prevention
          Accident Analysis & Prevention
          Elsevier BV
          May 2010
          May 2010
          : 42
          : 3
          : 827-834
          © 2010


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