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Description Table of Contents Author s Bio. Summary Human error is involved in more than 90 percent of traffic accidents, and of those accidents, most are associated with visual distractions, or looking-but-failing-to-see errors. Emphasizes Drivers as Visual Information Processors Because driving is an eyes-wide-open task, drivers are exposed to a multitude of visual stimuli along their journey. Addresses These Key Areas: Visual attention and in-vehicle technologies Interventions to reduce road trauma Avoiding collisions and the failures involved in that endeavor Using jargon-free language that is easily understood, this book compresses research from the past few decades into one accessible resource.

Table of Contents Visual Demands and Driving. Request an e-inspection copy. Share this Title. Recommend to Librarian. Shopping Cart Summary. Items Subtotal.

Human Factors of Visual and Cognitive Performance in Driving | Semantic Scholar

View Cart. Simulator sickness sometimes causes complex symptoms similar to motion sickness and has been reported to produce disorientation inside and outside the simulator. It is not yet clear how great a problem this will be for driving simulators; this must be evaluated as test simulators are developed. One possible solution is to impart motion to the operator moving base simulator , but this would entail considerable additional expense.

Current computational technology is proceeding at a dazzling pace and it is not unreasonable to entertain the possibility of having driving simulators with realistic interactive displays and at a reasonable cost in the not-distant future.

Human Factors of Visual and Cognitive Performance in Driving

It is often said that the driving task is 90 percent visual. While the original source of this proposition is obscure, most would agree that good vision is necessary. The problem is that we do not yet know what good. The ineffectiveness of present visual testing procedures was dramatically demonstrated by Burg , , , who correlated the results of both standard and nonstandard visual tests with the frequency of accidents for 17, drivers.

Of all the tests employed, only dynamic visual acuity, a test not included to our knowledge in any licensing procedure currently in use in the United States, correlated with accidents, and even there the correlation was weak. The basis for this low predictive power is probably related to the discrepancy between visual demands encountered during testing and those encountered while driving. Visual acuity tests evaluate only the threshold of resolution for high-contrast optotypes, that is, the ability to read fine print in bright illumination.

Such tests have proven to be valuable for prescribing reading glasses. However, driving usually depends on large fields of relatively coarse visual structure, and it frequently requires recognizing low-contrast objects under low mesopic illumination. Therefore, it should not be surprising that research shows little or no correlation between standard acuity tests and accidents.

There is, however, a growing body of literature, both empirical and theoretical, suggesting that tests of peripheral vision, contrast sensitivity, and motion perception may be more useful.

1. Introduction

Johnson and Keltner obtained visual fields on 10, eyes and determined that individuals with binocular scotomas were more likely to be involved in accidents. Testing of visual fields on a large scale will require the development of automated perimetric devices. This area is being actively investigated, not because visual fields are critical for driving but because visual field examinations can detect early visual pathology. Another promising approach is to assess vision for moving targets.


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Burg found that dynamic acuity, which requires the observer to resolve a moving optotype, was the only subtest related to accidents. Because motion is pervasive outside the laboratory, both the driver and the stimuli of interest are moving.


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The introduction of a gaze stability requirement for licensure is a logical step toward greater ecological validity. One should also note that most critical visual stimuli encountered during driving have low luminance contrast. During the past several decades, the vision community has accumulated impressive evidence that contrast sensitivity is more informative than visual acuity for high-contrast optotypes, especially in predicting performance for visual tasks other than reading. For example, an observer with incipient cataracts can demonstrate normal acuity even though his or her ability to recognize low-contrast objects has been severely impaired.

Several inexpensive contrast-sensitivity tests are now available. In view of the poor predictive ability of the static optotypes now being used in visual testing, and the empirical and theoretical evidence for the importance of both a contrast-sensitivity criterion and motion, the development of a contrast-sensitive test of dynamic spatial vision is both wanted and wanting.

Perhaps the most significant concomitant of normal aging is the loss of ability to receive light. With age the pupil of the eye becomes progressively smaller.

Typically, the maximum pupil diameter changes from 8 mm in youth to 4 mm in old age, a fourfold reduction in pupil area and, therefore, in light transmission. In addition, with increasing age, the optical media gradually become less transparent. On the average, the effective light transmitted to the retina is reduced by a factor of 2 every 15 years.

Since the accident rate per mile driven is approximately 3. Despite these facts, and despite the extensive literature and instrumentation on night vision developed primarily during World War II , to our knowledge no tests of night vision are currently in use, and, except for student drivers, there is no proscription for driving at night. What is needed is a test of nighttime vision that can be shown to be related to driving performance under low illumination levels.

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Human performance modeling

Whether this should evaluate recognition vision, visual guidance, or both is an empirical question. On the basis of information currently available, it would appear reasonable to restrict night driving for some individuals. Such graduated licensing regulations will require that reliable and valid testing procedures be developed. The possibility of innovative tests of driving proficiency should also be considered. Based on the pioneering work of Gibson , , , it has recently been suggested that the ability to guide a vehicle based on optical flow is critical in driving e.

With the low-cost computers and displays available, such tests, if they demonstrate predictive power, are now feasible. Other visual abilities that might be considered include distance perception, ability to judge closing rates, glare sensitivity, velocity perception, and the ability to handle divided attention.

The low predictive power of present procedures is a cogent argument for utilizing the wealth of information already available about vision and vision tests to develop new and better procedures. Alcohol is universally recognized as a major contributor to traffic accidents Shinar, It has been estimated that approximately 50 percent of automobile accidents involve alcohol Evans, Depending on state driving laws, the critical level of blood alcohol, above which the driver is.

However, the behavioral data do not support a fixed blood-alcohol criterion as a threshold of impairment. There is extensive evidence that many individuals are impaired at blood-alcohol levels that are half the values being used Moskowitz, In addition, the limited performance data available demonstrate strikingly high intersubject variability Wilson and Plomin, Some people with blood-alcohol levels below the current legal limits frequently perform less well on dynamic contrast sensitivity tests than others whose levels would classify them as legally intoxicated Andre et al.

Data are urgently needed to resolve this dilemma. If there is a blood-alcohol level that does not impair performance, it must be supported by performance data. Alternatively, the combination of drinking and driving should be prohibited and the legal limit set at the measurement error of the evaluation procedure. A major problem in human performance is vigilance, that is, the need to remain alert during a repetitive task that induces drowsiness and lack of attention.

The deficit may be general or may involve a narrowing of the effective field of attention. There are marked individual differences in the "useful field of view" UFOV ; these are correlated with accident records and, therefore, have significant implications for driving proficiency Ball and Owsley, Recent studies indicate that restriction of the field of attention or UFOV poses a serious problem for older drivers.

This important finding raises several research questions about how drivers allocate attention. What are the effects of fatigue, expectation, traffic demands, experience, and age? To what extent or in what mode is the UFOV test related to specific components of the driving task Ball et al.