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J Vis. 2008 Apr 23;8(4):18.1-13. doi: 10.1167/8.4.18.

Does gaze influence steering around a bend?

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Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.


M. F. Land and D. N. Lee (1994) suggested that steering around a bend is controlled through the estimation of curvature using the visual direction of a single road feature: the tangent point. The aim of this study was to evaluate, using a simulated environment, whether the high levels of tangent point fixation reported by some researchers are indeed related to steering control. In the first experiment, gaze patterns were examined when steering along roadways of varying widths and curvatures. Experiment 2 investigated the effects of enforced fixation on steering, when gaze was directed to the road ahead at a range of lateral eccentricities, including the tangent point. All participants completed both experiments. Overall, there was no evidence for extensive tangent point fixation in the free-gaze experiment and enforced tangent point fixation did not result in more accurate steering. The present results seem to suggest that participants tend to steer in the direction of their gaze; hence, looking at the tangent point causes the driver to steer toward it. These results provide some support for the R. M. Wilkie and J. P. Wann (2002) model of steering, which proposes that drivers will direct their gaze toward points they wish to pass through.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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