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Do familiarity and expectations change perception? Drivers’ glances and response to changes

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Author: Martens, M.H. · Fox, M.
Institution: TNO Defensie en Veiligheid
Source:Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 6, 10, 476-492
Identifier: 19068
doi: doi:10.1016/j.trf.2007.05.003
Keywords: Traffic · Traffic signs · Expectations · Eye movements · Response times · Visual search · Information processing · Driving · Change · Familiarity · Glance duration · Traffic sign · Accident prevention · Automobile drivers · Highway accidents · Road and street markings · Exposure participant · Glance duration · Low-cost simulator · Behavioral research


The present study shows that repeated exposure to a road environment changes eye movement behaviour. In addition, repeated exposure may result in inadequate responses to unexpected changes in the road environment. Participants drove a low-cost simulator while their eye movements were recorded. With repeated exposure participants’ glances at traffic signs along the route were shorter while having a better recollection of the traffic signs along the route. At the last drive, the priority situation at an intersection was changed (a priority road was changed into a yield situation). Even though drivers glanced at the sign that indicated the new priority situation, they did not sufficiently process the information to show an adequate response. Only two out of 12 drivers showed any response, being a response only after crossing the priority road markings. The current finding that unexpected but relevant information may be missed by drivers is relevant for other monitoring tasks. Keywords: Expectations; Driving; Traffic sign; Glance duration; Familiarity; Change