Empirical and Theoretical Understanding of Driver Hazard Perception and Response

Daniela Barragan

Advisor: Yi-Ching Lee, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Matthew Peterson, William Helton

Online Location, Online
December 01, 2020, 11:00 AM to 01:00 PM


This dissertation aims to understand drivers’ behavior when interacting with dangerous driving events (i.e., hazards). Study 1 evaluated individual differences in performance on a hazard perception video task. Three hundred ninety-eight participants completed an online study which included two visual attention tasks, a driver knowledge test, answered questions after viewing each of the 18 simulated driving video clips, and completed surveys. The data were evaluated using structural equation modeling where each individual difference measure was evaluated as a predictor of the latent variable hazard perception skills. The results concluded that individual differences in visual selective attention and knowledge of traffic laws predicted accuracy on the hazard perception video task. In sum, this study provides evidence that existing hazard perception research has overlooked individual differences in predicting hazard perception. Given that the results of Study 1 are unlike those of previous, Study 2 attempted to further understand these differences. The goal of Study 2 was to develop a theoretical framework to explain the process of perceiving and responding to hazards. Study 2 included discussions of the state of existing research and the limited theoretical support, defining hazard-related constructs, detailing the proposed hazard perception-response framework, providing suitable metrics to empirically test this framework, and discussing individual differences that affect drivers’ performance at each processing stage. Finally, Study 3 sought to evaluate the validity of the developed framework in a driving simulator study. Thirty-eight young drivers completed driving simulator tasks and surveys. The collected data allowed evaluations of differences in driving behavior during hazard events among individuals diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) versus an otherwise healthy population.