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
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