Age and skill differences in classifying hazardous traffic scenes Academic Article uri icon


  • Background Poor hazard perception (HP) abilities correlate with young-inexperienced drivers’ over-representation in traffic crashes. HP ability can be examined by the degree of perceived hazard associated with a situation (i.e., how drivers rate ⧹ classify hazardousness). However, this form of evaluation was neglected in favor of measurement of perception-reaction time to perceived hazards. We argue that classification should be re-considered. Method In two similar studies, drivers with different driving experience completed two consecutive tasks: (1) observation of traffic-scene movies while pressing a response button each time they detected a hazard; and (2) observation of the same movies again and classifying them according to similarities in their hazardous situations. Hypothesis Young-inexperienced drivers classify the scenes according to similarity in actual hazards whereas more experienced drivers consider potentially hazardous situations in their classification criteria. Results In both studies young-inexperienced drivers tended to classify the movies according to similarity in their actual hazards whereas experienced drivers relied more on traffic-environment characteristics in their classification. Conclusions With experience, drivers perceive more potential hazards and relate to traffic-environment characteristics. Implications HP training programs should emphasize the tight link between traffic environment and specific hazards by including these factors when constructing the hazard perception movies database.

publication date

  • January 1, 2009