Drivers’ inability to assess their level of alertness on monotonous highways

Larue, Gregoire S., Michael, Rebecca L., & Rakotonirainy, A. (2011) Drivers’ inability to assess their level of alertness on monotonous highways. In Proceedings of the 8th International conference on managing fatigue in transportation, resources and health, Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle, WA.

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Decline of alertness constitutes a normal physiological phenomenon but could be aggravated when drivers operate in monotonous environments, even in rested individuals. Driving performance is impaired and this increases crash risk due to inattention. This paper aims to show that road characteristics - namely road design (road geometry) and road side variability (signage and buildings) – influence subjective assessment of alertness by drivers. This study used a driving simulator to investigate the drivers’ ability to subjectively detect periods of time when their alertness is importantly reduced by varying road geometry and road environment. Driver’s EEG activity is recorded as a reference to evaluate objectively driver's alertness and is compared to self-reported alertness by participants. Twenty-five participants drove on four different scenarios (varying road design and road environment monotony) for forty minutes. It was observed that participants were significantly more accurate in their assessment before the driving task as compared to after (90% versus 60%). Errors in assessment were largely underestimations of their real alertness rather than over-estimations. The ability to detect low alertness as assessed with an EEG was highly dependent on the road monotony. Scenarios with low roadside variability resulted in high overestimation of the real alertness, which was not observed on monotonous road design. The findings have consequences for road safety and suggest that countermeasures to lapses of alertness cannot rely solely on self-assessment from drivers and road design should reduce environments with low variability.

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ID Code: 51490
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: monotonous driving, alertness, EEG
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (111705)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > COGNITIVE SCIENCE (170200)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Facilities: CARRS-Q Advanced Driving Simulator
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 [please consult Authors]
Deposited On: 09 Jul 2012 05:21
Last Modified: 21 Jan 2016 01:41

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