Driver Visual Attention Before and After Take-Over Requests During Automated Driving on Public Roads


Objective This study aims to understand drivers’ visual attention before and after take-over requests during automated driving (AD), when the vehicle is fully responsible for the driving task on public roads.

Background Existing research on transitions of control from AD to manual driving has mainly focused on take-over times. Despite its relevance for vehicle safety, drivers’ visual attention has received little consideration.

Method Thirty participants took part in a Wizard of Oz study on public roads. Drivers’ visual attention was analyzed before and after four take-over requests. Visual attention during manual driving was also recorded to serve as a baseline for comparison.

Results During AD, the participants showed reduced visual attention to the forward road and increased duration of single off-road glances compared to manual driving. In response to take-over requests, the participants looked away from the forward road toward the instrument cluster. Levels of visual attention towards the forward road did not return to the levels observed during manual driving until after 15 s had passed.

Conclusion During AD, drivers may look toward non-driving related task items (e.g., mobile phone) instead of forward. Further, when a transition of control is required, drivers may take over control before they are aware of the driving environment or potential threat(s). Thus, it cannot be assumed that drivers are ready to respond to events shortly after the take-over request.

Application It is important to consider the effect of the design of take-over requests on drivers’ visual attention alongside take-over times.

Human Factors