Browse Publications Technical Papers 2002-01-0089

Evaluating Driver Response to a Sudden Emergency: Issues of Expectancy, Emotional Arousal and Uncertainty 2002-01-0089

The definition of the term “sudden emergency” in a driving situation is explored. The research regarding driver response under various alerted and surprise test conditions was surveyed. It was found that certain factors which arise in a real life sudden emergency were typically not addressed. A survey of behavioral and psychological research concerning human response to emergencies identified several factors which can significantly interfere with successfully coping with an emergency driving situation. These factors include driver expectancies of normal traffic flow, emotional arousal when confronted with a sudden and real threat of serious injury, the uncertain behavior of other involved drivers and the uncertain outcome of attempting to perform avoidance maneuvers well beyond a typical driver's routine experience. Once it is determined that a driver was confronted with a sudden emergency demanding extraordinary response, the outcome of the accident is dictated more by the chance of the circumstances than by the performance abilities of the driver and his vehicle.


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