Traffic signal colour recognition is a problem for both protan and deutan colour vision deficients

Atchison, David A., Pederson, Carol A., Dain, Stephen J., & Wood, Joanne M. (2003) Traffic signal colour recognition is a problem for both protan and deutan colour vision deficients. Human Factors, 45(3), pp. 495-503.


We investigated the effect of color-vision deficiency on reaction times and accuracy of identification of traffic light signals. Participants were 20 color-normal and 49 color-deficient males, the latter divided into subgroups of different severity and type. Participants performed a tracking task. At random intervals, stimuli simulating standard traffic light signals were presented against a white background at 5° to right or left. Participants identified stimulus color (red/yellow/green) by pressing an appropriate response button. Mean response times for color normals were 525, 410, and 450 ms for red, yellow, and green lights, respectively. For color deficients, response times to red lights increased with increase in severity of color deficiency, with deutans performing worse than protans of similar severity: response times of deuteranopes and protanopes were 53% and 35% longer than those of color normals. A similar pattern occurred for yellow lights, with deuteranopes and protanopes having increased times of 85% and 53% respectively. For green lights, response times of all groups were similar. Error rates showed patterns similar to those of response times. Contrary to previous studies, deutans performed much worse than protans of similar severity. Actual or potential applications of this research include traffic signal design and driver licensing.

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16 citations in Scopus
12 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 5462
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: For more information, please refer to the journal’s website (see link) or contact the author. Author contact details:
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ISSN: 0018-7208
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > OPTOMETRY AND OPHTHALMOLOGY (111300)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2003 Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Deposited On: 20 Nov 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:00

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