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Effect of button location on driver's visual behaviour and safety perception

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Although buttons are a frequently used type of control in car interiors, little research has been undertaken on how the usage of buttons affects the visual behaviour of the driver. In this study, the aim was to analyse the effect of push button location and auditory feedback on drivers' visual time off road and safety perception when driving in a real traffic situation. The effect of six button locations (five on the centre stack, one near the gear stick) was tested. Drivers' visual behaviour was studied in real traffic on a motorway. An eye tracking system recorded the visual behaviour of eight drivers who, in 96 repeated trials each, were instructed to press a specific button. Data analysis focused on the drivers' visual time off road and safety perception in relation to the location of the button to be pressed. Auditory feedback did not show a significant effect on visual time off road. The time off road increased significantly as the angle increased between the normal line of sight and button location for the five buttons placed on the centre stack. Results for the button located close to the gear stick, with the highest eccentricity, produced a short time off road. This unexpected finding is discussed in terms of three potential explanations: 1) the role of perceptual discrimination; 2) risk perception; and 3) motor control.
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Keywords: Button location; Driver eye movements; Safety perception; Steering-wheel deviation; Vehicle interior; Visual time off road

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: National Institute for Working Life - West, Gothenburg, Sweden,Human Factors Engineering, Department of Product and Production Development, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden 2: Saab Automobile AB, Trollhattan, Sweden,Ergonomics, Department of Design Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden 3: Cognitive Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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