Drivers anticipate lead-vehicle conflicts during automated longitudinal control: Sensory cues capture driver attention and promote appropriate and timely responses.
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) has been shown to reduce the exposure to critical situations by maintaining a safe speed and headway. It has also been shown that drivers adapt their visual behavior in response to the driving task demand with ACC, anticipating an impending lead vehicle conflict by directing their eyes to the forward path before a situation becomes critical. The purpose of this paper is to identify the causes related to this anticipatory mechanism, by investigating drivers' visual behavior while driving with ACC when a potential critical situation is encountered, identified as a forward collision warning (FCW) onset (including false positive warnings). This paper discusses how sensory cues capture attention to the forward path in anticipation of the FCW onset. The analysis used the naturalistic database EuroFOT to examine visual behavior with respect to two manually-coded metrics, glance location and glance eccentricity, and then related the findings to vehicle data (such as speed, acceleration, and radar information). Three sensory cues (longitudinal deceleration, looming, and brake lights) were found to be relevant for capturing driver attention and increase glances to the forward path in anticipation of the threat; the deceleration cue seems to be dominant. The results also show that the FCW acts as an effective attention-orienting mechanism when no threat anticipation is present. These findings, relevant to the study of automation, provide additional information about drivers' response to potential lead-vehicle conflicts when longitudinal control is automated. Moreover, these results suggest that sensory cues are important for alerting drivers to an impending critical situation, allowing for a prompt reaction.