Educational Interventions Successfully Reduce Pedestrians' Overestimates of Their Own Nighttime Visibility

  • Tyrrell R
  • Patton C
  • Brooks J
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Pedestrians dramatically overestimate their own visibility at night. This is likely to result in pedestrians unknowingly engaging in dangerous behavior. To determine the extent to which pedestrians' estimates of their own visibility are influenced by educational interventions, clothing reflectance, and headlamp beam setting, participants in 2 experiments estimated their own nighttime visibility by walking toward a stationary car to the point where they believed they were just recognizable as a pedestrian. In the first experiment 48 university students were tested and in the second experiment 9 high-school driver education students were tested. Overall, participants failed to appreciate the benefits of reflective clothing and of high-beam illumination. However, the participants in Experiment 1 who had heard a relevant lecture several weeks earlier gave estimates that were 10% shorter than did a control group. Participants in Experiment 2 heard a more focused and graphic-intensive lecture and gave estimates that were 56% shorter than did a control group. Potential applications of this research include increasing pedestrian safety by designing and implementing research-based public education campaigns aimed at reducing pedestrians' overestimates of their own nighttime visibility.

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  • Richard A. Tyrrell

  • Chad W. Patton

  • Johnell O. Brooks

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