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Drivers’ visual load at different time periods in entrance and exit zones of extra-long tunnel

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journal contribution
posted on 12.10.2020 by Shoushuo Wang, Zhigang Du, Fangtong Jiao, Haoran Zheng, Yudan Ni

As the number of tunnels and traffic accidents increase, it is necessary to study the drivers’ visual characteristic in the tunnels. Considering that freeway tunnels have limited space and narrow sight zone, drivers usually have a short visual blind zone and visual shock when entering and exiting the tunnels. This study aims to investigate the characteristics of drivers’ visual load in the entrance and exit zones of extra-long tunnels, and to provide a theoretical basis for the traffic safety prevention and control measures of the engineering design.

20 drivers were enrolled to conduct real vehicle tests in the Guizhou Sifangdong Tunnel at different time periods (daytime, twilight, and nighttime). The drivers’ pupil area was collected by an eye tracker. The maximum transient vibration value (MTVV) of the pupil area was selected as the index of visual load. In addition, the changing characteristics of visual load in the entrance and exit zones were examined. Using ANOVA, the significant difference of visual load in different zones and at different time periods were performed. Accordingly, the overall drivers’ visual load in the entrance and the exit zones were compared. Exponential function models of the MTVV value and the speed of pupil area change were constructed, where the pattern of mutual influence was examined.

The changing pattern of the drivers’ visual load at different time periods in the entrance and exit zones were markedly different. The comparison of the overall visual load was as follows: exit zones at nighttime > entrance zones at nighttime > entrance zones at twilight > exit zones at twilight ≈ entrance zones at daytime ≈ exit zones at daytime. Moreover, the MTVV value positively correlated with the speed of the pupil area change. Finally, this study proposes an evaluation standard of visual comfort based on the speed of the pupil area change.

This study highlights the driving risk in extra-long tunnel. These findings could provide a basis for studying the setting method of visual guidance facilities in entrance and exit zones of extra-long tunnel. Also, this study could provide a theoretical basis for the evaluation of drivers’ visual load in the tunnel.

Funding

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51578433) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 2020-YB-018).

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