Drivers’ perception of pedestrian in urban areas

Statistical databases often distinguish between accidents with pedestrian-injuries in urban and inter-city areas. Obviously, conflicting situations involving pedestrians are more typical in urban areas and less common in intercity areas. Nevertheless, the urban environment itself is not unified. There are variations in its characteristics; some of its roads are located inside residential neighborhoods and are more populated with pedestrians while other urban roads are located beyond residential neighborhoods and are less populated with pedestrians. Specifically, it is not clear whether differences in pedestrian expectancies can be exemplified in within-neighborhood residential roads and between-neighborhood urban roads. In our new publications we used the results of a Hazard Perception Test (HPT) to examine differences in drivers’ response to pedestrian-related events in urban and residential areas.

This  new publication will appear soon in a special issue dedicated to vulnerable road users (VRUs) in Accident analysis and prevention (David Shinar, guest editor). Look for:  Borowsky, A., Oron-GIlad,T. , Meir, A. & Parmet, Y. (in press). Drivers perception of vulnerable road users: A hazard perception approach, Accident Analysis and Prevention. Accepted November 2010.

Abstract

The present study examined how experienced and young-inexperienced drivers (either trained in hazard perception or not) respond to and identify pedestrians when they appear in residential roads within populated neighborhoods and in urban roads located outside neighborhoods and usually less populated. As part of a hazard perception test, participants were connected to an eye tracking system and were asked to observe 58 traffic scene movies and press a response button each time they detected a hazardous situation. Analyzing all pedestrian-related events revealed that, regardless of driving experience or training, drivers detect pedestrians less often when they appear in urban areas and more often when they appear in residential areas. In addition, drivers had shorter fixations when fixating on pedestrians in residential areas. Moreover, experienced drivers processed information more efficiently than young-inexperienced drivers (both trained and untrained) when pedestrians were identified. Visual search patterns in urban and residential traffic environments are discussed.

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