The Flashing Right Turn Signal with Pedestrian Indication: A Human Factors Study to Assess Driver Comprehension

  • Nelson A. RoqueEmail author
  • Walter R. Boot
  • Neil Charness
  • Kimberly Barajas
  • Jared Dirghalli
  • Ainsley Mitchum
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9755)


Given the increased fatality risk of older pedestrians, and the large and growing older adult population in the United States and around the world, many countermeasures to ensure aging pedestrian safety have been explored (e.g., different types of crosswalk markings). The present study sought to investigate the potential of an experimental countermeasure, the flashing pedestrian indicator (FPI). This signal, intended for right-turning drivers, alternates between a yellow arrow and a pedestrian symbol when a pedestrian calls for a walk phase at a signalized intersection. The purpose of this signal is to cue right-turning drivers to the potential presence of a pedestrian, encourage scanning to the right for crossing pedestrians, and promote driver yielding behaviors. We conducted a study to gauge the comprehension of drivers who were naïve to the signal to explore if the FPI’s intended message was understood. Participants were presented with scenarios depicting the FPI and other signal states and were asked the meaning of the observed signal (open-ended and multiple choice questions). Comprehension was tested across a range of age groups: younger (21–35 years), middle-aged (50–64), and older adult (65+) drivers. While in general the signal was understood, some participants were confused regarding the meaning of the FPI in certain situations. Potential positive effects of the FPI need to be weighed against potential confusion before any further recommendations can be made regarding the FPI as a potential countermeasure to assist with pedestrian crashes.


Pedestrian safety Transportation safety Traffic signals Older adults 



This project was funded by the Florida Department of Transportation. We offer special thanks to our Project Managers Raj Ponnaluri and Alan S. El-Urfali for their guidance, patience, and assistance. We thank Gail Holley and Angela Wilhelm for their invaluable feedback regarding stimulus development. We would also like to thank Craig Carnegie for his assistance with scheduling. Finally, we thank the many Florida State University psychology undergraduates who worked on this project. We are also extremely grateful to all the Florida residents who participated in this research.


  1. 1.
    National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA): Traffic safety facts 2012 data: Pedestrians. DOT HS 81 1 888 (2014)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Charness, N., Boot, W.R., Mitchum, A., Stothart, C., Lupton, H.: Final report: aging driver and pedestrian safety: parking lot hazards study. Technical report BDK83-977-12, Department of Transportation, Florida (2012)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Langlois, J.A., Keyl, P.M., Guralnik, J.M., Foley, D.J., Marottoli, R.A., Wallace, R.B.: Characteristics of older pedestrians who have difficulty crossing the street. Am. J. Public Health 87(3), 393–397 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Avineri, E., Shinar, D., Susilo, Y.O.: Pedestrians’ behaviour in cross walks: the effects of fear of falling and age. Accid. Anal. Prev. 44(1), 30–34 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Simons, D.J., Chabris, C.F.: Gorillas in our midst: sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events. Perception 28(9), 1059–1074 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Summala, H., Pasanen, E., Räsänen, M., Sievänen, J.: Bicycle accidents and drivers’ visual search at left and right turns. Accid. Anal. Prev. 28(2), 147–153 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Yantis, S.: Stimulus-driven attentional capture. Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 2(5), 156–161 (1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Galfano, G., Dalmaso, M., Marzoli, D., Pavan, G., Coricelli, C., Castelli, L.: Eye gaze cannot be ignored (but neither can arrows). Q. J. Exp. Psychol. 65(10), 1895–1910 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kuhn, G., Kingstone, A.: Look away! eyes and arrows engage oculomotor responses automatically. Atten. Percept. Psychophys. 71(2), 314–327 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ristic, J., Friesen, C.K., Kingstone, A.: Are eyes special? It depends on how you look at it. Psychon. Bull. Rev. 9(3), 507–513 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Tipples, J.: Eye gaze is not unique: automatic orienting in response to uninformative arrows. Psychon. Bull. Rev. 9(2), 314–318 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Boot, W.R., Charness, N., Mitchum, A., Landbeck, R., Stothart, C.: Final report: aging road user studies of intersection safety. Technical report BDV30-977-13, Department of Transportation, Florida (2014)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nelson A. Roque
    • 1
    Email author
  • Walter R. Boot
    • 1
  • Neil Charness
    • 1
  • Kimberly Barajas
    • 1
  • Jared Dirghalli
    • 1
  • Ainsley Mitchum
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

Personalised recommendations