School of Psychology

Chloe Robbins

Postgraduate research project


Title: Understanding the ‘Look but fail to see’ error.

Area: Traffic and Transport Psychology

Methods: Driving simulation, eye tracking, psychometric thresholding, functional near infrared spectroscopy

Motorcyclists are vulnerable road users, involved in a disproportionate amount of accidents given the distance travelled (DfT, 2014). The main cause of motorcycle accidents in the UK are ROW (right of way) accidents, whereby another road user, usually a car, pulls out of a side junction into the path of a motorcycle on a main carriageway (Clarke et al., 2007), also commonly termed the ‘Look but fail to see’ (LBFTS) error (Brown, 2002). It is typical in these accidents that drivers report being careful and attentive with their visual checks however, fail to see an oncoming road user. This indicates that the responsibility solely rests on the car driver.

The biggest contributory factor of road accidents in the UK is a ‘failure to look properly’, and as the name of the accident implies, is it thought this accident is caused by a visual error. The main aim of my research is to make distinctions between whether drivers actively look at approaching motorcycles (look), become consciously aware of approaching motorcycles (perceive), and whether they make accurate judgements (appraise) in regards to the vehicle's speed and distance. Secondly, my research will aim to improve the methodology of previous studies investigating the phenomenon, using Nottingham University’s high fidelity driving simulator. I will use novel techniques such as psychometric thresholding to measure gap acceptance at junctions and eye tracking to actively measure drivers’ visual attention, varying the vehicle type, speed and distance from the junction. The ultimate aim of my research is to increase our understanding of why this accident occurs on real roads and critically, improve motorcyclists’ safety

School of Psychology

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The University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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