Traffic-entry behavior and crash risk for older drivers with impairment of selective attention

Thomas A. Pietras, Qian Shi, John D. Lee, Matthew Rizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Current research suggests that older drivers with declines in selective attention would make more unsafe traffic-entry judgments than would older drivers with normal attention. This hypothesis was tested using an instrumented vehicle and a LIDAR speed and range detector. Participants were 20 older drivers: 10 (M = 72.0 yr.) had impairments of selective attention, measured with the Visual Attention Analyzer, Model 3000, and 10 were nonimpaired (M = 71.2 yr.). Drivers pressed a button to indicate the last possible moment they could safely cross a road in front of an oncoming vehicle. The speed and distance of the oncoming vehicles were measured and time-to-contact was calculated. Each driver's time-to-cross the roadway was independently measured. Attention-impaired drivers showed shorter time-to-contact values (5.60 sec. versus 6.86 sec.), took longer to cross the roadway (5.41 sec. versus 4.84 sec.), and had shorter safety cushions (the difference between time-to-contact and time-to-cross the roadway). Monte Carlo simulation showed that these performance differences increased the crash risk of the impaired group by up to 17.9 times that of the nonimpaired group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)632-644
Number of pages13
JournalPerceptual and motor skills
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems


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