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Timothy Wright, Walter Boot, Neil Charness, Thomas Vitale; The effects of red light running camera flashes on older and younger driver’s covert and overt attention.. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):884. doi: 10.1167/15.12.884.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recent empirical evidence suggests that the flashes associated with red light running cameras (RLRC) distract younger drivers, pulling attention away from relevant roadway information and delaying visual processing. Considering the perceptual and attentional declines that occur with age, older drivers may be especially susceptible to the distracting effects of RLRC flashes, particularly in situations in which the RLRC flash is highly salient (a bright flash at night). The current study examined age and situational differences in RLRC flash capture. Two experiments utilized both covert (inhibition of return) and overt (eye movements) indices of attention in order to explore potential age differences in the distracting effects of RLRC flashes. Salience of the flash was manipulated by varying its luminance and contrast with respect to the background of the driving scene (either day or night scenes). Results across both experiments suggest that simulated RLRC flashes capture observers’ attention, but, surprisingly, no age differences in attention capture were found with either covert or overt markers of attention. An analysis examining early and late eye movements revealed that older adults may have been strategically delaying their eye movements in order to avoid capture by the flash. In addition, older adults took longer to disengage attention following an incorrect eye movement, suggesting at least one age-related disadvantage in capture situations. Findings have theoretical implications for understanding age differences in attention capture with more realistic and familiar stimuli and inform future work that will examine how the distracting effects of RLRC flashes influence driving behavior.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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