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Journal Article


Schütz AC, Billino J, Bodrogi P, Polin D, Khanh TQ, Gegenfurtner KR. Perception 2015; 44(12): 1356-1370.


Abteilung Allgemeine Psychologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Germany.


(Copyright © 2015, SAGE Publications)






Traffic reports consistently identify speeding as a substantial source of accidents. Adequate driving speeds require reliable speed estimation; however, there is still a lack of understanding how speed perception is biased during driving. Therefore, we ran three experiments measuring speed estimation under controlled driving and lighting conditions. In the first experiment, participants had to produce target speeds as drivers or had to judge driven speed as passengers. Measurements were performed at daylight and at night. In the second experiment, participants were required to produce target speeds at dusk, under rapidly changing lighting conditions. In the third experiment, we let two cars approach and pass each other. Drivers were instructed to produce target speeds as well as to judge the speed of the oncoming vehicle. Here measurements were performed at daylight and at night, with full or dipped headlights. We found that passengers underestimated driven speed by about 20% and drivers went over the instructed speed by roughly the same amount. Interestingly, the underestimation of speed extended to oncoming cars. All of these effects were independent of lighting conditions. The consistent underestimation of speed could lead to potentially fatal situations where drivers go faster than intended and judge oncoming traffic to approach slower than it actually is.

Language: en


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