Remembering and predicting vehicle location: Situational Awareness in distracted and non-distracted drivers
Drivers both act directly on their environment, and rely upon some recollection of it in order to guide their action. Internal representation of the current environment is fundamental to the concept of ?situational awareness?, which is the focus of much current human factors research, albeit outside the driving domain. Two aspects of drivers? situation awareness are investigated here: drivers? immediate memory of the vehicles in front of them, and drivers predictions of where those vehicles would be after some time has elapsed. These issues are central to a broad range of issues in driver behaviour, e.g. drivers understanding and assessment of risk, desirability of in-car systems that require long glance durations (i.e. less time watching traffic).
Novice (N= 86) and Experienced (N= 20) drivers watched briefly presented photographs of, or films of moving, normal traffic scenes. Immediately afterwards, participants were asked to specify the location of the vehicles they saw (still photographs) or to predict where those vehicles would be after 5 seconds of further travel (moving films) on a structured grid. Drivers were tested when able to devote their attention wholly to the situation awareness tasks, and when dividing their attention between the situation awareness tasks and a concurrent distracting task. Results indicate that drivers? memory for their current environment is relatively poor, and predictions made on the basis of such memories are inaccurate. The implications for current understanding of hazard perception are discussed, as are results on Experienced-Novice differences and the impact of distraction on situation awareness.