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Lynn Huestegge, Anne Böckler; Out of the corner of the driver's eye: Peripheral processing of hazards in static traffic scenes. Journal of Vision 2016;16(2):11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/16.2.11.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Effective gaze control in traffic, based on peripheral visual information, is important to avoid hazards. Whereas previous hazard perception research mainly focused on skill-component development (e.g., orientation and hazard processing), little is known about the role and dynamics of peripheral vision in hazard perception. We analyzed eye movement data from a study in which participants scanned static traffic scenes including medium-level versus dangerous hazards and focused on characteristics of fixations prior to entering the hazard region. We found that initial saccade amplitudes into the hazard region were substantially longer for dangerous (vs. medium-level) hazards, irrespective of participants' driving expertise. An analysis of the temporal dynamics of this hazard-level dependent saccade targeting distance effect revealed that peripheral hazard-level processing occurred around 200–400 ms during the course of the fixation prior to entering the hazard region. An additional psychophysical hazard detection experiment, in which hazard eccentricity was manipulated, revealed better detection for dangerous (vs. medium-level) hazards in both central and peripheral vision. Furthermore, we observed a significant perceptual decline from center to periphery for medium (but not for highly) dangerous hazards. Overall, the results suggest that hazard processing is remarkably effective in peripheral vision and utilized to guide the eyes toward potential hazards.
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