Addiction & Risky Behaviors

Post-Doctoral Fellowships

United Kingdom

Training novice drivers to know how and where to look to reduce driving risks

Driving a car is a fairly complex task requiring simultaneous execution of a number of subtasks. Paying attention to what is happening in your peripheral vision is one of them. With experience, drivers acquire the capacity to detect potential threats outside of their central vision. Novice drivers, however, are busy processing unfamiliar information on the road and devote little attentional capacity to peripheral vision. Building on his previous research, Dr. Donghyun Ryu is examining whether a training technique he has been working on could help increase the beginner’s capacity to know how and where to look. His ultimate objective is provide a way to accelerate perceptual skill acquisition, thus contributing to reducing the number of road traffic accidents involving young novice drivers.
« A large body of research evidence suggest that young novice drivers are more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident than experienced drivers » reports Dr. Donghyun Ryu. « The most important contributing factor is their limited capacity to perceive and detect potential threats ».
To increase perceptual skill, Dr. Donghyun Ryu has previously been working on a training technique that impairs selective areas of the visual field. His findings show that learning with impaired peripheral vision offers a promising approach. « We’ve successfully tested the method on sports players to try and increase their performance by teaching them to select and integrate the most useful information », the researcher explains. « Given that driving also relies on perception of a rapidly changing environment, I decided I would test a similar training technique on novice drivers.»

Accelerating perceptual skill acquisition using a video training technique that impairs peripheral vision

40 novice drivers will take part in Dr. Donghyun Ryu’s experiment. All participants will complete seven training sessions in which they will watch videos of hazardous situations filmed from a driver’s perspective and they will be asked to detect and identify the hazard as soon as it emerges. Depending on which of the four groups they have been randomly assigned to, the participants will either have un-manipulated vision, clear central vision and blurred peripheral vision, blurred central vision and clear peripheral vision, or have no training at all. The study will test the effects of the training by testing the participant’s ability to detect hazards before the training sessions, immediately after, and a month later. « I expect that similar to my previous study, participants who train with clear central vision and blurred peripheral vision will improve driving performance to a greater extent than those who do not receive training », says Dr. Donghyun Ryu. In order to better understand the mechanisms that underpin skill acquisition, the participants’s gaze behavior, as well as their brain and cardiac activity will be monitored while they are being tested.

Road traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of death globally and young novice drivers are the most likely to be involved. By developing a training technique that aids perceptual skill acquisition to enhance hazard perception ability of novice drivers, Dr. Donghyun Ryu could significantly contribute to safer roads. « Once the study is finished and our objectives are reached, this method of training could, for instance, be introduced in driving schools around the world », says Dr. Donghyun Ryu.



Bangor University


United Kingdom



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