The aim of this study was to determine the cues used to signal avoidance of difficult driving situations and to test the hypothesis that drivers with relatively poor high contrast visual acuity (HCVA) have fewer crashes than drivers with relatively poor normalised low contrast visual acuity (NLCVA). This is because those with poorer HCVA are well aware of their difficulties and avoid dangerous driving situations while those poorer NLCVA are often unaware of the extent of their problem. Age, self-reported situation avoidance and HCVA were collected during a practice based study of 690 drivers. Screening was also carried out on 7254 drivers at various venues, mainly motorway sites, throughout the UK. Age, self-reported situation avoidance and prior crash involvement were recorded and Titmus vision screeners were used to measure HCVA and NLCVA. Situation avoidance increased in reduced visibility conditions and was influenced by age and HCVA. Only half of the drivers used visual cues to signal situation avoidance and most of these drivers used high rather than low contrast cues. A statistical model designed to remove confounding interrelationships between variables showed, for drivers that did not report situation avoidance, that crash involvement decreased for drivers with below average HCVA and increased for those with below average NLCVA. These relationships accounted for less than 1% of the crash variance, so the hypothesis was not strongly supported. © 2002 The College of Optometrists.
- contrast sensitivity
- situation avoidance