Eye glances towards conflict-relevant cues: the roles of anticipatory competence and driver experience

Accid Anal Prev. 2019 Nov:132:105255. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2019.07.031. Epub 2019 Aug 12.


Objective: This paper analyzes the effects of anticipatory competence and driver experience on glance patterns towards visual cues that indicate conflict situations.

Background: Prior research has shown that experienced drivers' visual scanning patterns differ from those of novices. Experienced drivers are less erratic and more systematic in their monitoring of the environment. We have also shown in an earlier study that driving experience improves anticipatory competence in that it leads to a higher number of timely proactive actions in conflict-scenarios (avoidance actions prior to, as opposed to in reaction to a conflict). This paper investigates glance patterns specifically to relevant visual cues in conflict scenarios to determine whether glance patterns of anticipatory drivers who exhibit proactive actions differ from those who do not. It also investigates whether experienced drivers pay more attention to these cues compared to novices.

Method: We conducted a simulator experiment with 24 experienced and 24 novice drivers. As part of the experiment, all drivers completed three distinct traffic scenarios, each with a conflict situation.

Results: The results show that drivers who exhibited proactive actions had more frequent and longer glances towards conflict-relevant cues than those who did not exhibit any. Similarly, experienced drivers focused on these visual cues more often, and for longer durations compared to novices. Further, experienced drivers who exhibited proactive actions looked at the cues more often compared to experienced drivers who did not exhibit any; there was no significant difference for novice drivers.

Conclusion: These findings speak to the role of situation-specific visual cues for anticipatory competence, and to the importance of driver experience to aid in the interpretation of these cues. Future research should seek to confirm our findings in a wider variety of driving scenarios.

Keywords: Anticipation; Driver behaviour; Driver experience; Driving simulator; Gaze patterns; Novice drivers.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cues
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult