Physiological Biomarkers of Hazard Perception Among Novice and Experienced Teenage Drivers

The highest risk for a car crash is during the first year of independent driving. Evidence suggests that an acquired skill of hazard perception, developed through experience, reduces the likelihood of a crash. While the hazard ratings of experienced and novice drivers have not been found to be significantly different, this decline in risk may be explained by the Somatic Marker Hypothesis, proposed by Damasio. This hypothesis suggests that prior experience results in the formation of a gut feeling or ‘somatic marker’ that biases the options available for decision-making and operates in parallel with the rational decision-making process, thus speeding up the entire process. Kinnear and colleagues found experienced drivers were twice as likely than novice drivers to demonstrate a skin conductance response (SCR), a measure of autonomic arousal, while watching videos containing driving hazards. In this study, the authors replicate the conditions from Kinnear’s study for young drivers in the U.S. context by creating novel Driving Hazard Perception Task (including non-hazard video controls and video from driving on the right side of the road) to test the hypothesis that experienced drivers will have increased SCR while watching videos containing hazards. All participants in this study were between 16-20 years old. Novice drivers had a learner’s permit and less than 1,000 miles driving experience, while experienced drivers had a driver’s license for at least 2 years and had driven more than 3,000 miles in the past year. In a validation study, ten participants (5 novice) rated the riskiness of the 60 videos in the Driving Hazard Perception Task (30 with driving hazards) on a 1-10 scale. Data collection is ongoing for an additional 36 participants (18 novice) who will perform the Driving Hazard Perception Task while heart rate and electrodermal activity (EDA) data are collected. Of analytic interest is the period of time preceding a hazard, termed the ‘anticipatory period’. For the validation study, pairwise t-tests of hazard and matched non-hazard videos were significantly different (p<0.001) for all participants. Designating ratings of 1-3 as non-hazard and 4-10 as hazard, experienced drivers had correct responses 87.3% and 93.3% and novice drivers 94.7% and 82.7%, respectively. For the Driving Hazard Perception Task, completed EDA analysis thus far (n=4, 2 each group) demonstrates experienced drivers had a SCR33.3% of the time compared to novice drivers at 15.0% during the anticipatory period. There was no statistically significant difference between the experienced and novice groups. Once completed, this study could influence driving education and licensing programs by providing physiological assessment of hazard perception among young drivers. Additionally, the physiological insights gained will add to the general literature of hazard perception and primed responses.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ANB30 Standing Committee on Operator Education and Regulation.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

  • Authors:
    • Ehsani, Johnathon
    • Chirles, Theresa
    • Rodman, Christopher
    • Kim, Karolyne
    • Kinnear, Neale
    • Seymour, Karen
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2019


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: 2p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01697714
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-04229
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Mar 1 2019 3:51PM