Driver perception-response time to left-turning vehicles at traffic signal controlled intersections

Paper #:
  • 2018-01-0521

  • 2018-04-03
Left-turn crashes account for almost one quarter of all collisions. Although research has quantified the perception-response time (PRT) of drivers to left turning vehicles with high acceleration profiles, research is lacking for driver responses to normal or realistic left turning vehicle acceleration. During path intrusion scenarios, there is typically a geographic and/or objective marker from which the detection and hence perception-response may be measured. During left turn scenarios, it is often difficult for the through driver to detect where the left turning vehicle will intrude into their path. The purpose of this research was to determine driver PRT to a left turning vehicle from the first lateral movement of the left turning vehicle. PRT for this study was defined as the time from first lateral movement until the driver reacts, whether by touching the brake pedal, swerving (steering wheel angle change of at least 2 degrees), accelerating, or a mixture of those responses. 49 (NFemale=24; NMale=25) licensed volunteer drivers took part in a study at the University of Guelph Driving Research in Virtual Environments (DRiVE) lab using an Oktal complete vehicle driving simulator. After a brief practice drive to acclimatize to the virtual environment, participants completed the approximately 10 minute drive experiment where two types of left hand turn hazards were presented to drivers in random order. In one scenario, the left turning vehicle was stopped at the intersection before accelerating (LHTS), and in the other scenario the vehicle approached the intersection and turned at constant speed (LHTNS). There were significant differences in PRT between the LHTS and LHTNS scenarios with drivers taking longer to respond to the vehicle that had been stopped at the intersection (LHTS). This difference in PRT corresponded with a higher collision rate in the LHTS situation when compared to the LHTNS. However, collisions were common in both situations, with a mean time-to-impact of 3.66 seconds. Female reaction times trended toward being slightly slower than males, but there were no differences in collision rates.
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