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Hong Xu, Bo Du, Jian Sheng Yeung, Yiik Diew Wong; Eye movement patterns when driving in real environment. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):888. doi: 10.1167/17.10.888.
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Previous studies have investigated drivers' visual features when drivers entering and exiting tunnels. However, few studies have attempted to investigate drivers' visual attention in different real environment (e.g., open roads and underground tunnels). This study examined drivers' eye movement patterns when they were driving on open road and tunnel expressways in Singapore. Twenty-two drivers were recruited for the study, and the total driving distance was 25 km including 9 km tunnel section. Drivers' eye movement was recorded simultaneously using a head-mounted mobile eye tracker (Mobile Eye XG, ASL). We found that drivers experienced more fixations and blinks when driving on open roads than in tunnels during the same period of effective times (Wilcoxon Signed rank test, as the data doesn't follow normal distribution; same analysis in the following); and instantaneous velocity for saccades was significantly higher when driving on open roads. However, longer fixation durations were observed for drivers in tunnels. The findings suggest that attention distribution is more concentrated when driving in tunnels than open roads, and may reflect heavier cognitive load in tunnels. Interestingly, drivers experienced more stable fixation in horizontal direction (e.g., peak velocity) and less stable fixation in vertical direction in tunnels (e.g., dispersion). Furthermore, drivers in tunnels gazed more at the center of the visual field (e.g., car ahead and road ahead); whereas the gaze pattern for open road driving spread toward other items in the scene (e.g., mirror, road side, and far ahead/sky). The heterogeneous surroundings for open roads may attract more diverse attention than tunnels. Findings from the study may help shed light on the mechanisms of attention when navigating in real environment and provide insights for road design and regulation for safety in high speed self motion.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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