Detection and identification of information presented peripherally inside the car: effects of driving task demands, stimulus position and direction of motion of the stimulus

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Torbjörn Falkmer
Jan Törnros

The aim was to study the performance of an in-car information system relying exclusively on information presented peripherally by “running light” stimuli. The information was presented on displays placed in four different positions; upper, lower, to the right, and to the left. Four different directions of the “running light” were used; upwards, downwards, to the right, and to the left. Two levels regarding driving task demands were used.

Thirty-two subjects participated in the study. A repeated-measures design was used. The study was performed in an advanced driving simulator. The subjects’ task was to report the direction of motion of the peripheral stimuli as quickly as possible.

A traffic situation with high demands on the driver caused the subjects to fixate the peripheral stimulus to a lesser extent than when the driving task was less demanding. The upper display was fixated to a smaller extent than the left or the right one. However, differences in number of fixations between the displays appeared only when the demands of the driving task were high, not when they were low. No effects of the direction of motion of the stimulus on the number of fixations appeared.

There were very few errors regarding the identification of the direction of the stimulus, regardless of whether the stimulus was fixated or not.

The response times were short. There were differences between display positions. The response time was shortest for the right display and for the lower display, but somewhat longer for the other two displays. It was somewhat shorter when the stimulus was fixated than when it was not. Driving task demands had no effect on response time. Regarding effects of the direction of motion of the stimulus, there was only a very weak interaction with driving task demands and display position.

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