Response times in drivers' gap acceptance decisions during overtaking

Annemartijne Sevenster, Haneen Farah, David Abbink, Arkady Zgonnikov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Overtaking on two-lane roads can lead to increased collision risks due to drivers' errors in evaluating whether or not to accept the gap to the vehicle in the opposite lane. Understanding these gap acceptance decisions can help mitigate the risks associated with overtaking. Previous research on overtaking has focused on the factors influencing gap acceptance decisions. However, the cognitive processes underlying gap acceptance decisions remain poorly understood. Previous studies have shown that response time (i.e. the time it takes the driver to evaluate the gap and make a decision) can provide valuable insights into the cognitive processes during gap acceptance decisions, in particular in pedestrian crossing and left turn decisions. However, the more complex nature of the overtaking maneuver renders it difficult to measure response times in overtaking. As a result, response times in overtaking have not been investigated, thereby limiting our understanding of overtaking behavior. To address this gap, in this paper we propose a method to measure response time in drivers' overtaking decisions and demonstrate this method in a driving simulator experiment (N=25). Specifically, we analyzed the effect of distance to the oncoming vehicle and speed of the ego vehicle on response time in accepted and rejected gaps. We found that response times for rejected gaps were on average longer than for accepted gaps. The response times increased with the distance gap and decreased with the initial velocity of the ego vehicle. We conclude that using the proposed method for measuring response time can give insight in the way drivers make gap acceptance decisions during overtaking. These results provide basis for cognitive process models that can help further understand overtaking decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-340
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Driver behavior
  • Driving simulator studies
  • Gap acceptance
  • Overtaking
  • Response times


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