An experiment tracked drivers' gaze patterns as they made judgements about the manoeuvring intentions of a bicyclist at a T-junction. The stimuli involved a factorial manipulation of the bicyclist's arm-signals and gaze cues, as well as whether the participant viewed the bicyclist from the major road or the minor road. When making their decisions, there was a strong tendency for participants to direct their gaze, and so presumably their attention, to the bicyclist's face before any other relevant area, including the arm when it was used for signalling. Moreover, participants not only spent longer looking at the face than any of the other aspects of the bicyclist that were considered, but this effect was particularly pronounced in situations where the bicyclist was effectively making eye-contact with the participant. These findings support the idea that encountering a bicyclist is a fundamentally social interaction and suggest that drivers exhibit an attentional bias, such that they are particularly likely to seek out the face upon seeing a vulnerable road user. In light of the substantial literature on reflexive processing that seems to occur when faces are viewed, this bias may help explain slow driver decision responses to bicyclists seen in previous studies. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Transportation Research Part F - Traffic Psychology and Behaviour|
|Publication status||Published - 2007|