S. Schlichtherle, R. Höger

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Pages: 109-122

One of the main causes of fatal accidents on German rural roads is overtaking despite risky scenarios. It was examined whether predictions about the future volume of oncoming traffic – based on the volume of oncoming traffic just experienced – influences the decision to overtake in these circumstances. The predictive framework model served as rational for the investigation of predictions as a possible mediator in the connection between oncoming traffic volume and overtaking intention. For the purpose of the study, 36 students (25 female) completed five runs with varying levels of oncoming traffic in a driving simulator. Each route ended with a traffic situation in which an overtaking maneuver would be potentially risky. After each trip, participants’ overtaking intention and the prediction of future oncoming traffic were documented with a questionnaire. No direct link could be found between different amounts of oncoming traffic and overtaking intention. Most of the test drivers indicated a positive intention to overtake regardless of the experimental condition. The predicted oncoming traffic ranged between none and no more than a moderate amount and was therefore estimated to be rather low across all conditions. Furthermore, it appears that the assessment of future oncoming traffic is influenced by the level of oncoming traffic just experienced. However, the predictions made about oncoming traffic in the near future showed no mediating influence on the relationship between experienced oncoming traffic and overtaking intention. The results cannot make a substantial contribution to a deeper understanding of risky overtaking decisions. Rather, the observations suggest that the cognitive processes during such traffic scenarios and maneuvers should be examined in more fragmented approaches.
Keywords: overtaking decision; risky overtaking; simulator study; traffic intensity; predictive framework model

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