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Visual attention while driving: sequences of eye fixations made by experienced and novice drivers

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Eye fixations were recorded while novice and experienced drivers drove along three types of roads (rural, suburban and dual-carriageway). An analysis of the content of those fixations was performed in order to identify differences in the scanpaths that can be associated with skill acquisition and that can indicate a sensitivity to road type. This analysis itemized the part of the visual scene that was inspected with each fixation, and identified what the driver looked at as a function of what they had looked at previously. Single-fixation, two-fixation, and three-fixation patterns of eye-movements were identified. Differences in sequences of fixations were found between novice and experienced drivers on the three types of roads, with experienced drivers showing greater sensitivity overall, and with some stereotypical transitions in the visual attention of the novices. A number of individual sequences were identified, including a roadway preview pattern (alternating fixations between near and far views of the road ahead), and patterns involving mirror inspections that varied according to the road type.
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Keywords: Driving; Eye movements; Scanpaths; Skill and experience; Visual search

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 15, 2003

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