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Visual impairment and drivers’ ability to recognise pedestrians at night

Wood, J, Tyrrell, R, Chaparro, A, Marszalek, R, Carberry, T, Sun Chu, B

Pedestrian Safety

ACRS conference 2012

Driving at night is dangerous: The fatality rate at night is 3x higher than that for daytime and the night-time elevation in road safety risk is even greater for pedestrians who are 7x more vulnerable to a fatal collision at night than in the day. While multiple factors contribute to this increased crash risk, reduced visibility and conspicuity of pedestrians at night has been shown to be the most important. The most common clothing intervention adopted to improve pedestrian conspicuity at night-time is a reflective vest. BUT studies have suggested that night-time pedestrian visibility can be better enhanced using strategic placement of reflective markers. Recent interest in applying perceptual phenomenon of biological motion to improving pedestrian visibility at night, where reflective strips are attached to the moveable joints illuminated in the headlight beam, known as ‘biomotion’. Effects useful for both young and older drivers but the way in which visual impairment and glare impact on the ability of ‘biomotion’ clothing to improve pedestrian conspicuity is unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate how visual impairments and headlamp glare affected pedestrian conspicuity and determined whether clothing configurations that have been shown to improve pedestrian conspicuity are robust to the effects of visual impairment.