Does familiarity breed inattention – why drivers crash on the roads they know best
Keywords: Hazard Perception & Inattention
Submission Date: 2012
This paper describes our research into the nature of everyday driving, with a particular emphasis on the processes that govern driver behaviour in familiar, well-practiced situations. The research examined the development and maintenance of proceduralised driving habits in a high-fidelity driving simulator by paying 29 participants to drive a simulated road regularly over three months of testing. A range of measures, including detection task performance and driving performance were collected over the course of 20 sessions. Performance from a yoked control group who experienced the same road scenarios in a single session was also measured. The data showed the development of stereotyped driving patterns and changes in what drivers noticed, indicative of inattentional blindness and “driving without awareness”. Extended practice also resulted in increased sensitivity for detecting changes to foveal road features associated with vehicle guidance and performance on an embedded vehicle detection task (detection of a specific vehicle type). The changes in attentional focus and driving performance resulting from extended practice help explain why drivers are at increased risk of crashing on roads they know well. Identifying the features of familiar roads that attract driver attention, even when they are driving without awareness, can inform new interventions and designs for safer roads. The data also provide new light on a range of previous driver behaviour research including a “Tandem Model” that includes both explicit and implicit processes involved in driving performance.