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Visual attention and the transition from novice to advanced driver

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Inexperienced drivers are particularly vulnerable to road traffic accidents, and inattention emerges as a factor in these accidents. What do these drivers attend to and how can their observation skills be developed? When drivers scan the road around them, differences are observed as function of driving experience and training, with experienced drivers increasing their visual scanning on roadways of increasing complexity. Trained police drivers showed this effect of increased scanning even more than experienced drivers. This suggests that the driver's understanding of the task develops with experience, such that roads that demand increased monitoring (e.g. interweaving traffic on a multi-lane highway) receive more extensive scanning than roads that are simpler (e.g. light traffic on a straight rural road). Novice drivers do not show this sensitivity to road complexity, suggesting that they fail to attend to potential dangers involving the behaviour of other road users. Encouragingly, a simple training intervention can increase the visual scanning of novices.
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Keywords: Attention; Driver training; Driving; Hazard perception; Road traffic accidents; Situation awareness; Skill and experience

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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