The objective of this study was to explore the effect of in-vehicle glances on the top-down processes that guide the detection and monitoring of hazards on the forward roadway. In particular, a simulator was used to determine whether drivers interrupted by an in-vehicle spatial task were less likely to detect a hazard that had been predicted when glancing back to the forward roadway as compared to drivers who were not interrupted. There were 12 participants in this simulator study that ranged from 31 years to 48 years in age.
Results showed that drivers who were interrupted while driving often failed to continue scanning for a potential hazard once their eyes returned to looking at the road ahead. An analysis of eye movements revealed that drivers that were interrupted often failed to continue scanning for a potential hazard when their forward view re-appeared. Based on these findings, authors supported increasing awareness among drivers that it takes longer for them to acquire critical information when they glance back at the roadway, even when engaging in an in-vehicle task for short durations.
Borowsky, A., Horrey, W. J., Liang, Y., Garabet, A., Simmons, L., & Fisher, D. L. (2015). The effects of momentary visual disruption on hazard anticipation and awareness in driving. Traffic Injury Prevention, 16(2), 133-139.