June 2017
Volume 17, Issue 7
Open Access
OSA Fall Vision Meeting Abstract  |   June 2017
Perceiving pedestrians at night: a critical visual task
Journal of Vision June 2017, Vol.17, 4. doi:10.1167/17.7.4
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      Richard A. Tyrrell, Joanne M. Wood, D. Alfred Owens, Stephanie Whetsel Borzendowski, Ashley Stafford Sewall; Perceiving pedestrians at night: a critical visual task. Journal of Vision 2017;17(7):4. doi: 10.1167/17.7.4.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Limitations in drivers' visual abilities are a leading contributor to nighttime crashes into pedestrians. Too often, pedestrians at night are poorly illuminated, low contrast, and unexpected. This creates a critical visual challenge even for visually healthy and attentive drivers. To maximize their safety at night, pedestrians must be conspicuous, not merely potentially detectable as an ambiguous object. A conspicuous pedestrian will attract a driver's attention and be readily perceivable as a pedestrian. This talk will summarize research on the conspicuity of pedestrians at night. A key discovery from basic visual science – our perceptual sensitivity to biological motion – has been harnessed to make pedestrians more conspicuous. Most road users, drivers and pedestrians alike, are not aware of the natural limitations of night vision. Consequently, at night drivers “overdrive” their headlights, and pedestrians overestimate their own conspicuity and avoid using conspicuity-enhancing markings. Collectively, these findings demonstrate the need for interventions to educate road users about night vision.

Meeting abstract presented at the 2016 OSA Fall Vision Meeting

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