Eye tracking study confirms: Road markings are an important visual aid
Road markings and their visibility improve the motorist guidance on the road – as shown by a new study. The driver's perception of different retro-reflections levels of markings were analyzed. The result is clear: the more visible the lane and pavement marking lines, the more foresighted the actions of the vehicle driver. The so-called "eye-tracking" method was employed for the first time in this analysis. The pioneering study lays the foundations for further research in this field.
Amstetten, 20th December 2019 – "The fact that road markings are very important for traffic safety is well established. Thanks to the latest study, however, the magnitude of the effect that the visibility of the lines has on driving behavior has now been proven scientifically," explains Dr. Tomasz E. Burghardt (SWARCO Road Marking Systems Research & Development). The developer headed the study in collaboration with lecturer Anton Pashkevich from the Technical University of Krakow. They were supported in this process by university assistant Eduard Bairamov. The study involved 25 participants, who had held a driving license for at least three years.
Eye tracker verifies different sight patterns
In order to ascertain the effects of different retro-reflection values correctly, the drivers' eyesight was first measured during the day. This base data served as a reference value for the results recorded at night. The researchers' interest focused on the perception of the drivers. The drivers' field of vision was divided into five zones, and this allowed important conclusions to be made about driving behavior. The test was conducted on a test track measuring 23 kilometers in length and 6.1 to 6.5 meters in width with two different marking systems: One variant used standard glass beads, the other premium SWARCO SOLIDPLUS | DURALUX glass beads. Standard glass beads are made from recycled sheet glass and exhibit retro-reflection values of around 400 mcd/m²*lx. As a premium reflective glass bead, SWARCO SOLIDPLUS | DURALUX achieves values over 1,000 mcd/m²*lx. The effect of the different retro-reflection values on drivers was demonstrated very clearly. According to eye-track measurement, the test drivers directed their attention in the premium glass-bead section more readily to sections of road further ahead. These areas at a distance of 80 to 100 meters are very important for the driver. Potential safety hazards are detected earlier here, giving the driver much more time to react. At the same time, drivers were less likely to look outside the boundary lines.
Important insights for road safety
The first eye-tracker study in this field has supplied important insights for science. It clearly shows that drivers are better guided by road lane markings with high retro-reflection values.
Increased observation of the distant field and less searching for visual information away from the road can result in greater safety when driving at night. The study performed pioneering work for the research in this field. It is interesting for all road users in view of current demographic developments, especially for older drivers and those with poorer sight.
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