Take over! A video-clip study measuring attention, situation awareness, and decision-making in the face of an impending hazard

Zhenji Lu, Riender Happee, Joost C.F. de Winter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


In highly automated driving, drivers occasionally need to take over control of the car due to limitations of the automated driving system. Research has shown that visually distracted drivers need about 7 s to regain situation awareness (SA). However, it is unknown whether the presence of a hazard affects SA. In the present experiment, 32 participants watched animated video clips from a driver's perspective while their eyes were recorded using eye-tracking equipment. The videos had lengths between 1 and 20 s and contained either no hazard or an impending crash in the form of a stationary car in the ego lane. After each video, participants had to (1) decide (no need to take over, evade left, evade right, brake only), (2) rate the danger of the situation, (3) rebuild the situation from a top-down perspective, and (4) rate the difficulty of the rebuilding task. The results showed that the hazard situations were experienced as more dangerous than the non-hazard situations, as inferred from self-reported danger and pupil diameter. However, there were no major differences in SA: hazard and non-hazard situations yielded equivalent speed and distance errors in the rebuilding task and equivalent self-reported difficulty scores. An exception occurred for the shortest time budget (1 s) videos, where participants showed impaired SA in the hazard condition, presumably because the threat inhibited participants from looking into the rear-view mirror. Correlations between measures of SA and decision-making accuracy were low to moderate. It is concluded that hazards do not substantially affect the global awareness of the traffic situation, except for short time budgets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-225
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Automated driving
  • Eye-tracking
  • Safety
  • Time budget


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