Influence of Nonvisual Secondary Tasks on Driver's Pedestrian Detection

Influence of Nonvisual Secondary Tasks on Driver's Pedestrian Detection

Akira Yoshizawa (Denso IT Laboratory, Inc., Tokyo, Japan) and Hirotoshi Iwasaki (Denso IT Laboratory, Inc., Tokyo, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCINI.2015100102
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The most frequent type of fatal traffic accident is caused by “aimless driving” in Japan. In many cases the victims are pedestrians on straight roads, where there are usually fewer objects drivers need to pay attention to than at intersections. In this study, the authors investigate driver gazing for detecting pedestrians in such situations. To make subjects seem “aimless,” they gave them nonvisual secondary tasks of four difficulty levels while they tried to watch pedestrians and press a key to answer their moving direction. The result indicated that even nonvisual tasks influence eye movement and the subjects fail to react properly.
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1. Introduction

Trends in the number of fatalities in Japan indicate that the number of fatalities of vehicle drivers and passengers has decreased steadily over the past ten years. One reason may be increased safety systems, such as antilock braking systems and airbags. However, the number of fatalities of pedestrians hit by vehicles has become the most frequent cause of deaths on the road. Statistics indicate that 83% of such accidents occurred on straight roads. Among these accidents, 35% of drivers’ engaged in aimless driving, and another 35% engaged in “distracted driving (ITARDA, 2012).

Appropriate attention allocation is a key to safe driving (Fisher, D.L. & Pollatsek, A., 2007). And the internal information processing mechanisms and process of the brain, including attention mechanisms, have been investigated as Cognitive Informatics (Wang, Y., G. Baciu, Y. Yao, W. Kinsner, K. Chan, B. Zhang, S. Hameroff, N. Zhong, C.-R. Hunag, B. Goertzel, D. Miao, K. Sugawara, G. Wang, J. You, D. Zhang, & H. Zhu, 2010). Attention and eye movement are strongly linked in the brain, and fixation is the most effective mechanism (Victor, T. W., Engström, J., & Harbluk, J. L., 2009; Wickens, C. D., 1984). Studies have been conducted in an effort to create models of drivers’ attention and distraction using gazing behavior (Harada, T., Iwasaki, H., Mori, K., Yoshizawa, A. & Mizoguchi, F., 2014). However, the spatial direction of attention is not always the same as the gazing direction (POSNER, M.I., 1980). Even covert attention mechanisms do not involve explicit eye movement (Geisler, W.S. & Cormack, L.K., 2011).

For automotive applications, many researchers have investigated driver’s attentional status using eye-moving behavior (Angell, L., Auflick, J., Austria, P.A., Kochhar, D., Tijerina, L., Biever, W., Diptiman, T., Hogsett, J., & Kiger S., 2006; Harbluk, J.L. & Noy, Y.I., 2002; Kircher, K., Ahlstrom, C., & Kircher, A., 2009; Simons, D. J. & Chabris, C. F., 1999; Wang, Y., 2009). Some researchers studied the relationship between the eye point and the status of the surrounding area (Yonetani, R., Kawashima, H., Hirayama, T., & Matsuyama, T., 2012; Fletcher, L. & Zelinsky, A., 2009). To examine the influence of inattention on gaze behavior, some researchers use visual secondary tasks (Rydström, A., Grane, C., & Bengtsson, P., 2009; Mets, B., Schoemig, N., & Krueger, H. P., 2013), whereas others use nonvisual secondary tasks, such as cell phone conversations (Strayer, D. L. & Johnston, W. A., 2001; Strayer, D. L. & Drews, F. A., 2007).

The purpose of this study is to investigate inattentive drivers’ gazing behavior especially at pedestrians. We hypothesize that even nonvisual secondary tasks cause inattention for the driver and affect eye movement.

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