The incorporation of Augmented Reality (AR) in the windshield of automobiles using heads-up displays (HUD) is starting to be implemented by some manufacturers and is proving to be very useful in some situations, including safety distance keeping. This paper reports on a system that warns the driver via the car's HUD when he violates the predefined safety distance, to avoid a possible forward collision, and proposes two different visualization metaphors based on traffic signals. The metaphors are compared, with and without warning sounds, through computer simulations performed by 22 participants from different age groups and driving experiences. One of the metaphors corresponds to a variant of the traffic sign C10 that forbids circulating from the preceding vehicle shorter than a certain minimum headway, whereas the other corresponds to the road safety marks, which recommend the safety distance to be observed from the vehicle ahead. Results show that the metaphor derived from the safety marks, with warning sounds, is preferred by the participants, and was considered the most useful, intuitive and adequate to a forward collision warning. We also found that this metaphor was preferred by all participants that were 42 or more years old, whereas participants between 28 and 41 years old were divided between the two metaphors, with warning sounds.
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