Which parts of the road guide obstacle avoidance? Quantifying the driver's risk field

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Gibson and Crooks (1938) argued that a ‘field of safe travel’ could qualitatively explain drivers' steering behavior on straights, curved roads, and while avoiding obstacles. This study aims to quantitatively explain driver behavior while avoiding obstacles on a straight road, and quantify the ‘Driver's Risk Field’ (DRF). In a fixed-based driving simulator, 77 (7 longitudinal and 11 lateral) positions of the obstacles were used to quantify the subjectively perceived and objectively (maximum absolute steering angle) measured DRF for eight participants. The subjective response was a numerical answer to the question “How much steering do you think you need at this moment in time?” The results show that the propagation of the width of the DRF, along the longitudinal distance, resembled an hourglass shape, and all participants responded to obstacles that were placed beyond the width of the car. This implies that the Driver's Risk Field is wider than the car width.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103196
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Driving
  • Field of safe travel
  • Obstacle avoidance
  • Potential field
  • Risk

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