Factors That Affect Drivers' Perception of Closing and an Immediate Hazard

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Objective: To measure the looming threshold for when drivers perceive closing and an immediate hazard and determine what factors affect these thresholds. Background: Rear-end collisions are a common type of crash. One key issue is determining when drivers first perceive they need to react. The looming threshold for closing and an immediate hazard are critical perceptual thresholds that reflect when drivers perceive they need to react. Method: Two driving simulator experiments examined whether engaging in a cell phone conversation and whether the complexity of the roadway environment affect these thresholds for the perception of closing and immediate hazard. Half of the participants engaged in a cognitive task, the last letter task, to emulate a cell phone conversation, and all participants experienced both simple and complex roadway environments. Results: Drivers perceived an immediate hazard later when engaged in a cell phone conversation than when not engaged in a conversation but only when the driving task was relatively less demanding (e.g., simple roadway, slow closing velocity). Compared to simple scenes, drivers perceived closing and an immediate hazard later for complex scenes but only when closing velocity was 30 mph (48.28 km/h) or greater. Conclusion: Cell phone conversation can affect when drivers perceive an immediate hazard when the roadway is less demanding. Roadway complexity can affect when drivers perceive closing and an immediate hazard when closing velocity is high. Application: Results can aid accident analysis cases and the design of driving automation systems by suggesting when a typical driver would respond.

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Weaver, Bradley W., DeLucia, Patricia R. and Jupe, Jason. "Factors That Affect Drivers' Perception of Closing and an Immediate Hazard." Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 65, no. 1 (2023) Sage: 166-181. https://doi.org/10.1177/00187208211009028.

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This is an author's peer-reviewed final manuscript, as accepted by the publisher. The published article is copyrighted by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
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