Drivers gather traffic information primarily by means of their vision. Especially during complicated maneuvers, such as overtaking, they need to perceive a variety of characteristics including the lateral and longitudinal distances with other vehicles, the speed of others vehicles, lane occupancy, and so on, to avoid crashes. The primary object of this study is to examine the appropriate visual search patterns during overtaking maneuvers on freeways. We designed a series of driving simulating experiments in which the type and speed of the leading vehicle were considered as two influential factors. One hundred and forty participants took part in the study. The participants overtook the leading vehicles just like they would usually do so, and their eye movements were collected by use of the Eye Tracker. The results show that participants’ gaze durations and saccade durations followed normal distribution patterns and that saccade angles followed a log-normal distribution pattern. It was observed that the type of leading vehicle significantly impacted the drivers’ gaze duration and gaze frequency. As the speed of a leading vehicle increased, subjects’ saccade durations became longer and saccade angles became larger. In addition, the initial and destination lanes were found to be key areas with the highest visual allocating proportion, accounting for more than 65% of total visual allocation. Subjects tended to more frequently shift their viewpoints between the initial lane and destination lane in order to search for crucial traffic information. However, they seldom directly shifted their viewpoints between the two wing mirrors.
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