Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Element of surprise' explains why motorcycles are greater traffic hazard than cars

Date:
January 27, 2014
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
“I didn’t see it, because I wasn’t expecting it there,” might be the more accurate excuse for motorists who have just crashed into a bus or a motorcycle. The mere fact that such vehicles are less common than cars on our roads actually makes it harder for drivers to notice them, research shows. This so-called “low-prevalence effect” increases the likelihood of accidents.

"I didn't see it, because I wasn't expecting it there," might be the more accurate excuse for motorists who have just crashed into a bus or a motorcycle. The mere fact that such vehicles are less common than cars on our roads actually makes it harder for drivers to notice them, says Vanessa Beanland of The Australian National University. Beanland and colleagues conducted research at Monash University on how the so-called "low-prevalence effect" increases the likelihood of accidents. The study is published in Springer's journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.

The impact that this low-prevalence effect has on a person's ability to search through static images, such as in airport luggage screening, has been the topic of previous research. However, Beanland's research team is the first to publish results on how it influences people's ability to safely perform dynamic tasks, such as driving.

They used a driving simulator experiment involving 40 adult drivers to investigate whether it is easier for drivers to detect and respond to specific types of vehicles when they occur more frequently in surrounding traffic. The drivers had to detect two types of vehicles: motorcycles and buses. The researchers varied how frequently these vehicles appeared. Half of the subjects were subjected to a high prevalence of motorcycles and a low number of buses, with the other half experiencing the reverse.

Although participants were explicitly instructed to search for both buses and motorcycles, the researchers found that the attention of the observers was biased toward whichever vehicle occurred more frequently during the simulated detection drive. This in turn affected the speed at which drivers were able to detect low-prevalence targets. In the simulated test in which motorcycles occurred more frequently, the car drivers were able to detect them on average from 51 meters farther away than in the tests where they occurred less often. In effect, at a driving speed of 60 km/h, this allowed the drivers an extra 3 seconds to respond. Similarly, drivers had an extra 4.4 seconds to react to buses in situations where they occurred more frequently.

The results suggest that drivers' inability to always notice motorcyclists is partially due to the fact that motorcycles occur relatively rarely on our roads, and that drivers are simply not on the look-out for them. It therefore appears that by increasing the prevalence of a visual search target it is possible to effectively yet temporarily make it stand out better within a specific visual environment.

"Drivers have more difficulty detecting vehicles and hazards that are rare, compared to objects that they see frequently," says Beanland, who believes that the ability to accurately perform visual searches is crucial to ensuring safe driving and avoiding collisions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Vanessa Beanland, Michael G. Lennι, Geoffrey Underwood. Safety in numbers: Target prevalence affects the detection of vehicles during simulated driving. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 2014; DOI: 10.3758/s13414-013-0603-1

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "'Element of surprise' explains why motorcycles are greater traffic hazard than cars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140127101057.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2014, January 27). 'Element of surprise' explains why motorcycles are greater traffic hazard than cars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140127101057.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "'Element of surprise' explains why motorcycles are greater traffic hazard than cars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140127101057.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) — The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) — The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) — President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) — Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins