Pedestrian Visibility in Roundabouts: Naturalistic Study of Driver Eye-Glance Behavior
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Roundabouts increase safety, but their safety effects on vulnerable road users are not as great as the safety effects for motor-vehicle drivers. Additionally, many motorists fail to yield to pedestrians at intersections and roundabouts, possibly because drivers do not see the pedestrians, crosswalk signage, and/or pavement markings. Eye-tracking technology has been used to quantify driver eye-glance behavior in a variety of driving contexts, but has yet to be applied to drivers in roundabouts with pedestrians. The exploratory research performed for this project attempted to shed light on driver visual behavior at roundabouts, and to examine the extent that drivers looked at pedestrians, with the ultimate goal of increasing pedestrian safety at roundabouts. A quasi-naturalistic experimental study was conducted and drivers’ mean fixation durations toward pedestrians located at crosswalks were measured at two different roundabouts while making three kinds of turn maneuvers (straight through, left turn, and right turn) under day and nighttime conditions. Three important findings were evident. First, the results show that the position of the vehicle within the roundabout (approach, entry, and exit) had a significant impact on drivers’ visual behavior toward pedestrians. Drivers looked at pedestrians longer when they (drivers) were at the approach portion of the roundabout and less at the entry and exit portions of the roundabout. Second, the number of lanes at the roundabout did not significantly affect the drivers’ fixation durations toward the pedestrians. Finally, the age of the drivers and time of day did not significantly influence fixation durations toward the pedestrians at the roundabouts.