Driver Workload During Differing Driving Maneuvers


Hancock, P.A., Wulf, G., Thom. D., & Fassnacht, P. (1990). Driver workload during differing driving maneuvers. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 22(3), 281-290.

Motorcycle-automobile accidents occur predominantly when the car driver turns left across the motorcyclist’s right-of-way. Efforts to decrease this specific collision configuration, through an increase in motorcycle conspicuity, have concentrated on the physical characteristics of the motorcycle and its rider. The work reported here examines the behavior of car drivers during different driving sequences, in particular during left-turn maneuvers. An experiment is reported that used simultaneous video-taping of the driver and the forward-looking scene. Subjects followed a preset on-road course and were observed for head movements to determine the possibility of structural interference eye-blink frequency, probe-response time, and probe response error, as measures of cognitive or mental workload. In addition, the subjects completed two major subjective workload evaluations as reflections of effort directed to different components of the driving task. Results indicated that there were significant increases in head movements and mental workload during turn sequences compared to straight driving. This result of higher driver workload may be responsible for increasing the potential for detection failure. Such a propensity is also fostered by the higher structural interference that may be expected during turns. Failures to observe during turning sequences have differing outcomes depending on the presence of opposing traffic, as during the left turn, compared with the absence of such opposition, as occurs in the right turn. Also, the less conspicuous the oncoming vehicle in the left turn scenario, the higher the probability of detection failure. At the present time the least conspicuous powered vehicle is the motorcycle.

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