vigilance during advanced driver training
cooperation with Subaru (SA) the writer had the opportunity recently to assess
the reaction times of drivers who were being trained in advanced driver skills
at the Gerotek center, as well as the Swartkops racetrack in
objectives of the research project were to:
the degree to which the Fatigue-o-meter could distinguish the changes in
vigilance of these drivers as the day progressed and they were exposed to
physically and mentally taxing procedures. Determine the correlation between
objective measures of driver ability and the various ratings of vigilance as
recorded during the day.
agenda during the day's training was as follows:
drivers met at 8h00 for a general theoretical lecture and orientation.
The first activity of the day consisted of skidpan exercises. These activities
were relatively mild and consisted of wet road turns, slides and skid control.
This session ended in a precision and speed trial during which the drivers had
to complete a specified circuit on the skidpan, making their way through
obstacles. Driver times were recorded for this session and used as objective
standard of general ability and skill.
drivers were given lunch and relaxed for 40 minutes.
final session consisted out of grueling high speed (+- 160kms/hr) circuits at
Swartkops. Drivers were expected to learn how to handle their vehicles at high
speed and generally completed 3 to 6 circuits around the 1.3 km track. Drivers
were visibly tired and mentally taxed by this activity.
fatigue-o-meter tests were done at the end of each of the above stages.
Reaction times were corrected by a constant for errors.
results were obtained:
times over all four stages.
between reaction times at each stage and the objective test of precision
conducted at stage 2.
graph below ( Graph 1) illustrates the vigilance of the drivers at each stage:
1: Driver reaction times on the Fatigue-o-meter:
As can be seen on the
above graph, the drivers started relatively slow and were probably still
waking up (Monday morning) at the start of the day. At the end of the skid pan
exercise they reached their baseline level of vigilance and were relatively
Lunch brought about
an improvement of 20%. The afternoon session showed a dramatic deterioration
of 50% from their lunch time response speeds and clearly indicates the effect
of extended strain and road tension on driver vigilance.
Graph 2: Correlation
between reaction times and objective measure of accuracy:
above graph shows the correlation between reaction times and the measure of
individual driving precision recorded at the end of the skid pan exercise.
This line of exponentially increasing correlations indicates that two factors
are at work:The driver's individual level of vigilance is constantly and
positively correlated with driving precision.
driver's individual deterioration in vigilance tends to produce a variable
influence on precision.
above data adds practical credence to the Fatigue-o-meter ability to determine
driver vigilance deterioration accurately and suggests that mild levels of
negative driver vigilance can be restored (+- 20%) by rest and relaxation.
The correlation analysis data
suggests that the vigilance level of drivers (present as well as applicants)
may be used to determine general driver precision. It furthermore indicates
that drivers who are cautioned for lack of vigilance, may more often lack
precision and vehicle control and may be more inclined to have driving