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Technical Paper

Rearview Mirror Reflectivity and the Quality of Distance Information Available to Drivers

In two experiments, we examined the possibility that rearview mirror reflectivity influences drivers' perceptions of the distance to following vehicles. In the first experiment, subjects made magnitude estimates of the distance to a vehicle seen in a variable-reflectance rearview mirror. Reflectivity had a significant effect on the central tendency of subjects' judgments: distance estimates were greater when reflectivity was lower. There was no effect of reflectivity on the variability of judgments. In the second experiment, subjects were required to decide, under time pressure, whether a vehicle viewed in a variable-reflectance rearview mirror had been displaced toward them or away from them when they were shown two views of the vehicle in quick succession. We measured the speed and accuracy of their responses. Mirror reflectivity did not affect speed or accuracy, but it did cause a bias in the type of errors that subjects made.
Technical Paper

Evaluation of Mechanical Beam-Switching System

An evaluation was conducted of a mechanical beam switching system that may be appropriate for use with HID lamps. Subjects rated the adequacy of beam change time at several rates, compared with an electrical beam changing system. The results indicate that the subjects rated the mechanical and electrical systems the same, at the shortest change time for the former. Longer change times elicited poorer ratings for the mechanical system. The change from low to high beam was rated better than the change from high to low beam in the mechanical system. This difference was statistically significant at the two slower change rates investigated.