Novice drivers have been found in previous studies to display a limited search of the immediate environment, relative to experienced drivers, when manoeuvring on a dual-carriageway road. The present study investigated whether this reduction in the variance of search along the horizontal plane was a product of less frequent glancing in the car's mirrors. Novice and experienced drivers were observed as they made lane changes in relatively unobstructed conditions and when they needed to move into a lane already occupied by traffic. Novice drivers were found to rely more than experienced drivers upon their internal mirror, even when the lane-changing manoeuvre required information about traffic in the lane best reflected in the external, door-mounted mirror. Novices did increase their use of the external mirror in response to driving needs, suggesting that they did have an awareness of the situation that required inter-weaving with traffic in their destination lane. Their reliance upon the internal mirror may be a product of a habit acquired specifically for the driver licensing examination, in which exaggerated inspection of the internal mirror is regarded as being desirable.
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