Whetsel: The Accuracy of Drivers’ Perceptions of the Effects of Headlight Glare on Their Ability to Recognize Pedestrians at Night

Title: The Accuracy of Drivers’ Perceptions of the Effects of Headlight Glare on Their Ability to Recognize Pedestrians at Night

Advisor: Dr. Rick Tyrrell
Committee: Drs. Chris Pagano & Patrick Rosopa

Details: Monday, November 21st at 2 pm in Brackett 419

Abstract: Recently, researchers have begun to assess the extent to which drivers believe their ability to see is degraded by headlight glare. Research has suggested that drivers may overestimate the extent to which glare from headlamps degrades their ability to see letters. This project extended this research by quantifying the accuracy with which drivers judge that glare interferes with their ability to see pedestrians at night. On average, participants overestimated the distance at which drivers would see a pedestrian by a factor of more than three. Headlight glare disrupted participants’ ability to recognize the pedestrian wearing both non-retroreflective and reflective clothing configurations. Interestingly, participants judged that headlight glare would not affect recognition distances for a pedestrian wearing a retroreflective vest, while judgments of recognition distances for the lower contrast pedestrian decreased appropriately. Future research should explore situations in which drivers’ misjudgments of their own perceptual capabilities may cause predictable problems.

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