Effects of reduced contrast on the perception and control of speed when driving

Owens, D. Alfred, Wood, Joanne M., & Carberry, Trent P. (2010) Effects of reduced contrast on the perception and control of speed when driving. Perception, 39(9), pp. 1199-1215.

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Misperception of speed under low-contrast conditions has been identified as a possible contributor to motor vehicle crashes in fog. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the effects of reduced contrast on drivers’ perception and control of speed while driving under real-world conditions. Fourteen participants drove around a 2.85 km closed road course under three visual conditions: clear view and with two levels of reduced contrast created by diffusing filters on the windscreen and side windows. Three dependent measures were obtained, without view of the speedometer, on separate laps around the road course: verbal estimates of speed; adjustment of speed to instructed levels (25 to 70 km h-1); and estimation of minimum stopping distance. The results showed that drivers traveled more slowly under low-contrast conditions. Reduced contrast had little or no effect on either verbal judgments of speed or estimates of minimum stopping distance. Speed adjustments were significantly slower under low-contrast than clear conditions, indicating that, contrary to studies of object motion, drivers perceived themselves to be traveling faster under conditions of reduced contrast. Under real-world driving conditions, drivers’ ability to perceive and control their speed was not adversely affected by large variations in the contrast of their surroundings. These findings suggest that perceptions of self-motion and object motion involve neural processes that are differentially affected by variations in stimulus contrast as encountered in fog.

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10 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 40779
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Low-Contrast, Drivers' Perception, Control of Speed
DOI: 10.1068/p6558
ISSN: 0301-0066
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND IMAGE PROCESSING (080100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > OPTOMETRY AND OPHTHALMOLOGY (111300)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > COGNITIVE SCIENCE (170200)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Optometry & Vision Science
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 a Pion publication
Deposited On: 17 Mar 2011 21:35
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2012 13:28

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