Manser, M.P., Hancock, P.A., Kinney, C., & Diaz, J. (1997). Understanding driver behavior through application of advanced technological systems. Transportation Research Record, 1573, 57-62.
The use of the unecological removal research scenario in recent years has been forced because of technological limitations. However, with the advent of three-dimensional modeling programs and high-fidelity graphic systems, the ability to accurately represent real-world situations in computer-generated worlds has become easier, cheaper, and more realistic. A time-to-contact (TTC) experiment is reported in which the manner of removing and approaching vehicle from the environment was manipulated. One scenario, the disappearance condition, featured a traditional, instantaneous removal of a vehicle. The purpose of this research was to determine if a more ecological research scenario, one in which the approaching vehicle becomes occluded by a naturally occurring object (the occlusion condition), influences a driver’s ability to estimate TTC accurately. The avilable visual information was essentially equivalent in both scenarios. If the level of ecological validity has no effect on estimates of TTC, estimates of TTC between the two scenarios would be expected to be similar. Results, however, showed estimates with 14 percent greater accuracy in the occlusion condition compared with the disappearances condition, implying that researchers have been using a research scenario that biases estimates of TTC. Further, the results of the present findings imply that there are processes that occur in real world settings that have not being accounted for in previous TTC research.
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