Selective attention: Effects of driving experience, visual conspicuity and cognitive conspicuity

Mueller, Alexandra
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University of Guelph

Driver inattention is a major contributing factor in vehicle-collisions (Neale et al., 2005), and young inexperienced drivers are overrepresented in collision statistics around the globe (WHO, 2009). This thesis investigates the effects of visual and cognitive conspicuity of information in the driving environment on selective attention, and how selection changes with experience to make drivers less collision prone. Results indicate that task-related perceptual selection involves a three-stage process, and viewpoint influences what is conspicuous to observers. Novices appear to have greater risk for collision because their selection strategies for safety-related information are less automatic than those of experienced drivers; consequently, novices have fewer resources available to select extraneous information (e.g., unexpected events). In fog, experienced drivers compensate by reducing their speed more than novices. Novices have higher hazard reaction times and more collisions in fog and clear visibility, which suggests that the speeds at which they drive are unsafe.

driving experience, selective attention, visual conspicuity, cognitive conspicuity, vehicle-collisions