Differences in the Perception of Potential Risk by Novice and Experienced Drivers

A risk comparison task was used to investigate the visual attention of 12 novice and 19 experienced drivers. Participants viewed 52 slides, each containing two photographs of actual road scenes. In each slide, one road scene included a higher level of potential risk than the other (e.g., a merging vehicle or pedestrian). The task was to decide as quickly as possible which of the scenes posed greater potential risk from the driver’s perspective. Importantly, the difference in risk-level of some stimulus pairs was great and, therefore, “easy” to assess, whereas the risk-level of other pairs was relatively similar and, therefore, “difficult” to assess. Eye movements were recorded to assess the participants’ fixation of the two road scenes in each slide. Eye movement records indicated that, compared with novices, the fixations of experienced drivers were biased more heavily toward the riskier scene. Moreover, response time data showed that experienced drivers took significantly longer to respond when the risk-levels of the two scenes were similar (“Difficult”) than when the risk-levels were different (“Easy”). In contrast, novices responded quickly to all comparisons, with no difference between “Difficult” and “Easy” combinations. These findings indicate that, compared to novices, experienced drivers recognize and attend more thoroughly to risky aspects of realistic road scenes. This difference in visual attention may help to account for the fact that for at least a year after licensure, new drivers, independent of their age, are at greater risk of causing a collision.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: DVD
  • Features: Figures; Photos; Tables;
  • Pagination: 13p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 89th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers DVD

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01157046
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 10-2502
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Jan 25 2010 11:11AM