Age-related differences in visual scanning at median-divided highway intersections in rural areas

Shan Bao, Linda Ng Boyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this study was to examine age-related differences in visual scanning as drivers performed three separate maneuvers (going straight across, making a left and right turn) at two median-divided highway intersections with different crash frequencies. An on-road study was conducted with 60 drivers in three age groups: younger (18-25), middle-aged (35-55), and older (65-80). The study consisted of two between-subject (age and gender) and two within-subject variables (drive maneuver and intersection type). Drivers' behavior was measured by the proportion of time they visually sampled towards the left, right and rearview mirror, and by an entropy rate representative of randomness in visual scanning. The results showed that older and younger drivers do not utilize their full scanning range when compared to middle-aged drivers, as indicated by lower entropy rate and the tendency to check fewer areas before executing a maneuver through the intersections. This trend was more obvious during left and right turn maneuvers indicating a greater likelihood to miss an unexpected event. Older drivers had a significantly smaller proportion of visual sampling to the left and right during intersection negotiations when compared to younger and middle-aged drivers. Older and younger drivers checked the rearview mirror significantly less when compared to middle-aged drivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-152
Number of pages7
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Crashes
  • Entropy rate
  • Intersections
  • Older drivers
  • Visual strategies
  • Younger drivers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Law
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics


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