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CEVMS and Driver Visual Behavior Study - Peer reviewed report

Reading

The first on-road study was conducted in Reading. This study examined the type of advertising (CEVMS, standard billboard, or no off-premise advertising), time of day (day or night) and road type (freeway or arterial) as independent variables. Eye tracking was used to assess where participants gazed and for how long while driving. The luminance and contrast of the advertising signs were measured to characterize the billboards in the current study.

Method

Selection of Data Collection Zone Limits

Data collection zones (DCZ) were defined on the routes that participants drove where detailed analyses of the eye tracking data were planned. The DCZ were identified that contained a CEVMS, a standard billboard, or no off-premise advertising.

he rationale for selecting the DCZ limits took into account the geometry of the roadway (e.g., road curvature or obstructions that blocked view of billboards) and the capabilities of the eye tracking system (2 degrees of resolution). At a distance of 960 ft (292.61 m), the average billboard in Reading was 12.8 ft (3.90 m) by 36.9 ft (11.25 m) and would subtend a horizontal visual angle of 2.20 degrees and a vertical visual angle of 0.76 degrees, and thus glances to the billboard would just be resolvable by an eye tracking system with 2 degrees of accuracy. Therefore 960 ft was chosen as the maximum distance from billboards at which a DCZ would begin. If the target billboard was not visible from 960 ft (292.61 m) due to roadway geometry or other visual obstructions, such as trees or an overpass, the DCZ was shortened to a distance that prevented these objects from interfering with the driver's vision of the billboard. In DCZs with target off-premise billboards, the end of the DCZ was marked when the target billboard left the view of the scene camera. If the area contained no off-premise advertising, the end of the DCZ was defined by a physical landmark leaving the view of the eye tracking systems' scene camera.

Table 2 shows the data collection zone limits used in this study.

Advertising Conditions

The type of advertising present in DCZs was examined as an independent variable. DCZs fell into one of the following categories, which are listed in the second column of table 2:

Table 2. Inventory of target billboards with relevant parameters.

DCZ Advertising Type Copy Dimensions (ft) Side of Road Setback from Road (ft) Other Standard Billboards Approach Length (ft) Type of Roadway
1 CONTROL N/A N/A N/A N/A 786 Freeway
6 CONTROL N/A N/A N/A N/A 308 Arterial
3 CEVMS 10'6" x 22'9" L 12 0 375 Arterial
5 CEVMS 14'0" x 48'0" L 133 1 853 Freeway
9 CEVMS 10'6" x 22'9" R 43 0 537 Arterial
10 CEVMS 14'0" x 48'0" R 133 1 991 Freeway
2 Standard 14'0" x 48'0" L 20 0 644 Arterial
7 Standard 14'0" x 48'0" R 35 1 774 Freeway
8 Standard 10'6" x 22'9" R 40 1 833 Arterial
4 Standard 14'0" x 48'0" L 10 0 770 Freeway

*N/A indicates that there were no off-premise advertising in these areas and these values are undefined.

Photo of a suburban freeway curving to the left with few businesses or other buildings clearly visible because of the height of the roadway. A CEVMS billboard is ahead on the right.
Figure 3. DCZ with a target CEVMS on a freeway.

Photo of a suburban arterial roadway with natural landscape curving to the left and a building ahead on the left. A CEVMS billboard is ahead on the left.
Figure 4. DCZ with a target CEVMS on an arterial.

Photo of an urban freeway curving to the left with few businesses or other buildings visible because of the height of the freeway. A static billboard is ahead on the right.
Figure 5. DCZ with a target standard billboard on a freeway.

Photo of a suburban roadway straight-away with some buildings and natural landscape visible. A static billboard is ahead on the left.
Figure 6. DCZ with a target standard billboard on an arterial.

Photo of a suburban freeway straightaway going under an underpass. There is no billboard visible.
Figure 7. DCZ for the control condition on a freeway.

Photo of a suburban roadway straight-away with numerous buildlings visible on both sides of the road. There is no billboard visible.
Figure 8. DCZ for the control condition on an arterial.

Photometric Measurement of Signs

Two primary metrics were used to describe the photometric characteristics of a sample of the CEVMS and standard billboards present at each location: luminance (cd/m2) and contrast (Weber contrast ratio).

Photometric Equipment

Radiant Imaging ProMetric 1600 Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) photometer with both a 50 mm and a 300 mm lenses. The CCD photometer provided a method of capturing the luminance of an entire scene at one time.
The photometric sensors were mounted in a vehicle of similar size to the eye tracking research vehicle. The photometer was located in the experimental vehicle as close to the driver's position as possible and was connected to a laptop computer that stored data as the images were acquired.

Measurement Methodology

Images of the billboards were acquired using the photometer manufacturer's software. The software provided the mean luminance of each billboard message. To prevent overexposure of images in daylight, neutral density filters were manually affixed to the photometer lens and the luminance values were scaled appropriately. Standard billboards were typically measured only once; however, for CEVMS multiple measures were taken to account for changing content.

Photometric measurements were taken during day and night. Measurements were taken by centering the billboard in the photometer's field of view with approximately the equivalent of the width of the billboard on each side and the equivalent of the billboard height above and below the sign. The areas outside of the billboards were included to enable contrast calculations.

Standard billboards were assessed at a mean distance of 284 ft (ranging from 570 ft to 43 ft). The CEVMS were assessed at a mean distance of 479 ft (ranging from 972 ft to 220 ft). To include the background regions of appropriate size, the close measurement distances required the use of the 50 mm lens whereas measurements made from longer distances required the 300 mm lens. A significant determinant of the measurement locations was the availability of accessible and safe places from which to measure.

The Weber contrast ratio was used because it characterizes a billboard as having negative or positive contrast when compared to its background area.(31) A negative contrast indicates the background areas have a higher mean luminance than the target billboard. A positive contrast indicates the target billboard has a higher mean luminance than the background. Overall, the absolute value of a contrast ratio simply indicates a difference in luminance between an item and its background. From a perceptual perspective luminance and contrast are directly related to the perception of brightness. For example, two signs with equal luminance may be perceived differently with respect to brightness because of differences in contrast.

Visual Complexity

Regan, Young, Lee and Gordon presented a taxonomic description of the various sources of driver distraction.(32) Potential sources of distraction were discussed in terms of: things brought into the vehicle; vehicle systems; vehicle occupants; moving objects or animals in the vehicle; internalized activity; and external objects, events, or activities. The external objects may include buildings, construction zones, billboards, road signs, vehicles, and so on. Focusing on the potential for information outside the vehicle to attract (or distract) the driver's attention, Horberry and Edquist developed a taxonomy for out-of-the-vehicle visual information. This suggested taxonomy includes four groupings of visual information: built roadway, situational entities, natural environment, and built environment.(33) These two taxonomies provide an organizational structure for conducting research; however, they do not currently provide a systematic or quantitative way of classifying the level of clutter or visual complexity present in a visual scene.

The method proposed by Rozenholtz, Li, and Nakano provides quantitative and perhaps reliable measures of visual clutter.(34) Their approach measures the feature congestion in a visual image. The implementation of the feature congestion measure involves four stages: (1) compute local feature covariance at multiple scales and compute the volume of the local covariance ellipsoid, (2) combine clutter across scale, (3) combine clutter across feature types, and (4) pool over space to get a single measure of clutter for each input image. The implementation that was used employed color, orientation and luminance contrast as features. Presumably, less cluttered images can be visually coded more efficiently than cluttered images. For example, visual clutter can cause decreased recognition performance and greater difficulty in performing visual search.(35)

Participants

In the present study participants were recruited at public libraries in the Reading area. A table was set up so that recruiters could discuss the requirements of the experiment with candidates. Individuals who expressed interest in participating were asked to complete a pre-screening form, a record of informed consent, and a department of motor vehicles form consenting to release of their driving record.

All participants were between 18 and 64 years of age and held a valid driver's license. The driving record for each volunteer was evaluated to eliminate drivers with excessive violations. The criteria for excluding drivers were as follows: (a) more than one violation in the preceding year; (b) more than three recorded violations; and (c) any driving while intoxicated violation.

Forty-three individuals were recruited to participate. Of these, five did not complete the drive because the eye tracker could not be calibrated to track their eye movements accurately. Data from an additional seven participants were excluded as the result of equipment failures (e.g., loose camera). In the end, usable data was collected from 31 participants (12 males, M = 46 years; 19 females, M = 47 years). Fourteen participants drove at night and 17 drove during the day.

Procedures

Data were collected from two participants per day (beginning at approximately 12:45 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.). Data collection began on September 18, 2009, and was completed on October 26, 2009.

Pre-Data Collection Activities

Participants were greeted by two researchers and asked to complete a fitness to drive questionnaire. This questionnaire focused on drivers' self-reports of alertness and use of substances that might impair driving (e.g., alcohol). All volunteers appeared fit.

Next, the participant and both researchers moved to the eye tracking calibration location and the test vehicle. The calibration procedure took approximately 20 minutes. Calibration of the eye tracking system entailed development of a profile for each participant. This was accomplished by taking multiple photographs of the participant's face as they slowly rotate their head from side to side. The saved photographs include points on the face for subsequent real-time head and eye tracking. Marked coordinates on the face photographs were edited by the experimenter as needed to improve the real-time face tracking. The procedure also included gaze calibration in which participants gazed at nine points on a wall. These points had been carefully plotted on the wall and correspond to the points in the eye tracking system's world model. Gaze calibration relates the individual participant's gaze vectors to known points in the real world. The eye tracking system uses two pulsating infrared sources mounted on the dashboard to create two corneal glints that are used to calculate gaze direction vectors. The glints were captured at 60 Hz. A second set of cameras (scene cameras), fixed on top of the car close to the driver's viewpoint, were used to produce a video scene of the area ahead. The scene cameras recorded at 25 Hz. A parallax correction algorithm compensated for the distance between the driver's viewpoint and the scene cameras so that later processing could use the gaze vectors to show where in the forward scene the driver was gazing.

If it was not possible to calibrate the eye tracking system to a participant, the participant was dismissed and paid for their time. Causes of calibration failure included reflections from eye glasses, participant height (which put their eyes outside the range of the system), and eyelids that obscure a portion of the pupil.

Practice

After eye-tracker caibration, a short practice drive was made. Participants were shown a map of the route and written turn-by-turn directions prior to beginning the practice drive. Throughout the drive, verbal directions were provided by a GPS device.

During the practice drive, a researcher in the rear seat of the vehicle monitored the accuracy of eye tracking. If the system was tracking poorly, additional calibration was performed. If the calibration could not be improved, the participant was paid for their time and dismissed.

Data Collection

Participants drove two test routes (referred to as route A and B). Each route required 25 to 30 minutes to complete and included both freeway and arterial segments. Route A was 13 miles long and contained 6 DCZs. Route B was 16 miles long and contained 4 DCZs. Combined, participants drove in a total of 10 DCZs. Similar to the practice drive, participants were shown a map of the route and written turn-by-turn directions. A GPS device provided turn-by-turn guidance during the drive. Roughly one half of the participants drove route A first and the remaining participants began with route B. A 5 minute break followed the completion of the first route.

During the drives, a researcher in the front passenger seat assisted the driver when additional route guidance was required. The researcher was also tasked with recording near misses and driver errors if these occurred. The researcher in the rear seat monitored the performance of the eye tracker. If the eye tracker performance became unacceptable (i.e., loss of calibration), then the researcher in the rear asked the participant to park in a safe location so that the eye tracker could be recalibrated. This recalibration typically took a minute or two to accomplish.

Debriefing

After driving both routes, the participants provided comments regarding their drives. The comments were in reference to the use of a navigation system. No questions were asked about billboards. The participants were given $120.00 in cash for their participation.

Data Reduction

Eye Tracking Measures

The Multiple-Analysis of Psychophysical and Performance Signals (MAPPS™) software was used to reduce the eye tracking data.(36) The software integrates the video output from the scene cameras with the output from the eye tracking software (e.g., gaze vectors). The analysis software provides an interface in which the gaze vectors determined by the eye tracker can be related to areas or objects in the scene camera view of the world. Analysts can indicate regions of interest (ROIs) in the scene camera views and the analysis software then assigns gaze vectors to the ROIs.

Figure 9 shows a screen capture from the analysis software in which static ROIs have been identified. These static ROIs slice up the scene camera views into six areas. The software also allows for the construction of dynamic ROIs. These are ROIs that move in the video because of own-vehicle movement (e.g., a sign changes position on the display as it is approached by the driver) or because the object moves over time independent of own-vehicle movement (e.g., pedestrian walking along the road, vehicle entering or exiting the road).

Static ROIs need only be entered once for the scenario being analyzed whereas dynamic ROIs need to be entered several times for a given DCZ depending on how the object moves along the video scene; however, not every frame needs to be coded with a dynamic ROI since the software interpolates across frames using the 60-Hz data to compute eye movement statistics.

Depiction of how one screen picture can be broken down into six ROIs views, three on top and three on bottom.
Figure 9. Screen capture showing static ROIs on a scene video output.

The following ROIs were defined with the analysis software:

Static ROIs

These ROIs were entered once into the software for each participant. The static ROIs for the windshield were divided into top and bottom to have more resolution during the coding process. The subsequent analyses in the report combines the top and bottom portion of these ROIs since it appeared that this additional level of resolution was not needed in order to address research questions:

Dynamic ROIs

These ROIs are created multiple times within a DCZ for stimuli that move relative to the driver:

The software determines the gaze intersection for each 60 Hz frame and assigns it to an ROI. In subsequent analyses and discussion, gaze intersections are referred to as gazes. Since ROIs may overlap, the software allows for the specification of priority for each ROI such that the ROI with the highest priority gets the gaze vector intersection assigned to it. For example, an ROI for a CEVMS may also be in the static ROI for the road ahead.

The 60 Hz temporal resolution of the eye tracking software does not provide sufficient information to make detailed analysis of saccade characteristics,1 such as latency or speed. The analysis software uses three parameters in the determination of a fixation: a fixation radius, fixation duration, and a time out. The determination begins with a single-gaze vector intersection. Any subsequent intersection within a specified radius will be considered part of a fixation if the minimum fixation duration criterion is met. The radius parameter used in this study was 2 degrees and the minimum duration was 100 ms. The 2-degree selection was based on the estimated accuracy of the eye tracking system, as recommended by Recarte and Nunes.(37) The 100 ms minimum duration is consistent with many other published studies; however, some investigators use minimums of as little as 60 ms.(37,38) Because of mini-saccades and noise in the eye tracking system, it is possible to have brief excursions outside the 2 degree window for a fixation. In this study, an excursion time outside the 2-degree radius of less than 90 ms was ignored. Once the gaze intersection fell outside the 2-degree radius of a fixation for more than 90 ms, the process of identifying a fixation began anew.

Other Measures

Driving Behavior Measures

During data collection, the front-seat researcher observed the driver's behavior and the driving environment. The researcher used the following subjective categories in observing the participant's driving behavior:

These observations were entered into a notebook computer linked to the research vehicle data collection system.

Level of Service Estimates

For each participant and each DCZ the analyst estimated the level of service of the road as they reviewed the scene camera video. One location per DCZ was selected (approximately halfway through the DCZ) where the number of vehicles in front of the research vehicle was counted. The procedure entailed (1) counting the number of travel lanes visible in the video, (2) using the skip lines on the road to estimate the approximate distance in front of the vehicle that constituted the analysis zone, and (3) counting the number of vehicles present within the analysis zone. Vehicle density was calculated with the formula:

Vehicle Density = [(Number of Vehicles in Analysis Zone)/(Distance of Analysis Zone in ft/5280)]/Number of Lanes.

Vehicle density is the number of vehicles per mile per lane.

Vehicle Speed

The speed of the research vehicle was recorded with GPS and a distance measurement instrument. Vehicle speed was used principally to ensure that the eye tracking data was recorded while the vehicle was in motion.

Results

Results are presented with respect to the photometric measures of signs, the visual complexity of the DCZs, and the eye tracking measures. Photometric measurements were taken and analyzed to characterize the billboards in the study based on their luminance and contrasts, which are related to how bright the signs are perceived to be by drivers.

Photometric Measurements

Luminance

The mean daytime luminance of both the standard billboards and CEVMS was greater than at night. Nighttime luminance measurements reflect the fact that CEVMS use illuminating LED components while standard billboards are often illuminated from below by metal halide lamps. At night, CEVMS have a greater average luminance than standard billboards. Table 3 presents summary statistics for luminance as a function of time of day for the CEVMS and standard billboards.

Contrast

The daytime and nighttime Weber contrast ratios for both types of billboards are shown in table 3. Both CEVMS and standard billboards had contrast ratios that were close to zero (the surroundings were about equal in brightness to the signs) during the daytime. On the other hand, at night the CEVMS and standard billboards had positive contrast ratios (the signs were brighter than the surrounding), with the CEVMS having higher contrast than the standard billboards.

Table 3. Summary of luminance (cd/m2) and contrast (Weber ratio) measurements.

  Luminance (cd/m2) Contrast
Day Mean St. Dev. Mean St.Dev.
CEVMS 2126 798.81 -0.10 0.54
Standard Billboard 2993 2787.22 -0.27 0.84
Night        
CEVMS 56.00 23.16 73.72 56.92
Standard Billboard 17.80 17.11 36.01 30.93

Visual Complexity

The DCZs were characterized by their overall visual complexity or clutter. For each DCZ, five pictures were taken from the driver's viewpoint at various locations within the DCZ. In Reading, the pictures were taken from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. In Richmond, one route was photographed from 11:00 a.m. to noon and the other from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The pictures were taken at the start of the DCZ, quarter of the way through, half of the way through, three quarters of the way through, and at the end of the DCZ. The photographs were analyzed with MATLAB® routines that computed a measure of feature congestion for each image. Figure 10 shows the mean feature congestion measures for each of the DCZ environments. The arterial control condition was shown to have the highest level of clutter as measured by feature congestion. An analysis of variance was performed on the feature congestion measure to determine if the conditions differed significantly from each other. The four conditions with off-premise advertising did not differ significantly with respect to feature congestion; F(3,36) = 1.25, p > 0.05. Based on the feature congestion measure, the results indicate that the four conditions with off-premise advertising were equated with respect to the overall visual complexity of the driving scenes.

Graph shows the mean feature congestion as a function of advertising condition and road type. The highest congestion was on the arterial control condition with a mean of almost 4.00, while the highway control condition has a mean congestion just over 2.50. The standard advertising condition had congestion means of just under 3.00 on arterial control conditions and in between 2.50 and 3.00 for highway control conditions. The CEVMS advertising condition had the least congestion means of about 2.50 on both arterial and highway control conditions.
Figure 10. Mean feature congestion as a function of advertising condition and road type (standard errors for the mean are included in the graph).

Effects of Billboards on Gazes to the Road Ahead

For each 60 Hz frame, a determination was made as to the direction of the gaze vector. Previous research has shown that gazes do not need to be separated into saccades and fixations before calculating such measures as percent of time or the probability of looking to the road ahead.(39) This analysis examines the degree to which drivers gaze toward the road ahead across the different advertising conditions as a function of road type and time of day. Gazing toward the road ahead is critical for driving, and so the analysis examines the degree to which gazes toward this area are affected by the independent variables (advertising type, type of road, and time of day) and their interactions.

Generalized estimating equations (GEE) were used to analyze the probability of a participant gazing at driving-related information.(40,41) The data for these analyses were not normally distributed and included repeated measures. The GEE model is appropriate for these types of data and analyses. Note that for all results included in this report, Wald statistics were the chosen alternative to likelihood ratio statistics because GEE uses quasi-likelihood instead of maximum likelihood.(42) For this analysis, road ahead included the following ROIs (as previously described and displayed in figure 9): road ahead, road ahead top, and driving-related risks. A logistic regression model for repeated measures was generated by using a binomial response distribution and Logit (i.e., log odds) link function. Only two possible outcomes are allowed when selecting a binomial response distribution. Thus, a variable (RoadAhead) was created to classify a participant's gaze behavior. If the participant gazed toward the road ahead, road ahead top, or driving-related risks, then the value of RoadAhead was set to one. If the participant gazed at any other object in the panoramic scene, then the value of RoadAhead was set to zero. Logistic regression typically models the probability of a success. In the current analysis, a success would be a gaze to road ahead information (RoadAhead = 1) and a failure would be a gaze toward non-road ahead information (RoadAhead = 0). The resultant value was the probability of a participant gazing at road-ahead information.

Time of day (day or night), road type (freeway or arterial), advertising condition (CEVMS, standard billboard, or control), and all corresponding second-order interactions were explanatory variables in the logistic regression model. The interaction of advertising condition by road type was statistically significant, X2 (2) = 6.3, p = 0.043. Table 4 shows the corresponding probabilities for gazing at the road ahead as a function of advertising condition and road type.

Table 4. The probability of gazing at the road ahead as a function of advertising condition and road type.

Advertising Condition Arterial Freeway
Control 0.92 0.86
CEVMS 0.82 0.73
Standard 0.80 0.77

Follow-up analyses for the interaction used Tukey-Kramer adjustments with an alpha level of 0.05. The arterial control condition had the greatest probability of looking at the road ahead (M = 0.92). This probability differed significantly from the remaining five probabilities. On arterials, the probability of gazing at the road ahead did not differ between the CEVMS (M = 0.82) and the standard billboard (M = 0.80) DCZs. In contrast, there was a significant difference in this probability on freeways, where standard billboard DCZs yielded a higher probability (M = 0.77) than CEVMS DCZs (M = 0.73). The probability of gazing at the road ahead was also significantly higher in the freeway control DCZ (M = 0.86) than in either of the corresponding freeway off-premise advertising DCZs. The probability of gazing at road-ahead information in arterial CEVMS DCZs was not statistically different from the same probability in the freeway control DCZ.

Additional descriptive statistics were computed to determine the probability of gazing at the various ROIs that were defined in the panoramic scene. Some of the ROIs depicted in figure 9 were combined in the following fashion for ease of analysis:

Table 5 presents the probability of gazing at the different ROIs.

Table 5. Probability of gazing at ROIs for the three advertising conditions on arterials and freeways.

Road Type ROI CEVMS Standard Billboard Control
Arterial CEVMS 0.07 N/A N/A
  Left Side of Vehicle 0.06 0.06 0.02
  Road ahead 0.82 0.80 0.92
  Right Side of Vehicle 0.03 0.06 0.04
  Standard Billboard N/A 0.03 N/A
  Participant Vehicle 0.03 0.05 0.02
Freeway CEVMS 0.05 N/A N/A
  Left Side of Vehicle 0.08 0.07 0.04
  Road ahead 0.73 0.77 0.86
  Right Side of Vehicle 0.09 0.02 0.05
  Standard Billboard 0.02* 0.09 N/A
  Participant Vehicle 0.04 0.05 0.05

* The CEVMS DCZs on freeways each contained one visible standard billboard.

The probability of gazing away from the forward roadway ranged from 0.08 to 0.27. In particular, the probability of gazing toward a CEVMS was greater on arterials (M = 0.07) than on freeways (M = 0.05). In contrast, the probability of gazing toward a target standard billboard was greater on freeways (M = 0.09) than on arterials (M = 0.03).

Fixations to CEVMS and Standard Billboards

About 2.4 percent of the fixations were to CEVMS. The mean fixation duration to a CEVMS was 388 ms and the maximum duration was 1,251 ms. Figure 11 shows the distribution of fixation durations to CEVMS during the day and night. In the daytime, the mean fixation duration to a CEVMS was 389 ms and at night it was 387 ms. Figure 12 shows the distribution of fixation durations to standard billboards. Approximately 2.4 percent of fixations were to standard billboards. The mean fixation duration to standard billboards was 341 ms during the daytime and 370 ms at night. The maximum fixation duration to standard billboards was 1,284 ms (which occurred at night). For comparison purposes, figure 13 shows the distribution of fixation durations to the road ahead (i.e., top and bottom road ahead ROIs) during the day and night. In the daytime, the mean fixation duration to the road ahead was 365 ms and at night it was 390 ms.

The table shows the fixation duration on CEVMS billboards during the day and night. The day time fixation peaks at <300ms (about 50%) with 400-600ms encompassing about 40% of the fixation and 700-1,200ms encompassing about 10% of the fixation with no fixation more than 1,251ms. The night time fixation peaks at <300-400ms (about 65%) with 500-800ms encompassing about 30% of the fixation and 900ms encompassing about 5% of the fixation.
Figure 11. Distribution of fixation duration for CEVMS in the daytime and nighttime.

The table shows the fixation duration on standard billboards during the day and night. The day time fixation peaks at <300ms (about 50%) with 400-500ms encompassing about 35% of the fixation and 700-900ms encompassing about 15% of the fixation. The night time fixation peaks at <300ms (about 45%) with 400-700ms encompassing about 45% of the fixation and 900-1,300ms encompassing about 10% of the fixation.
Figure 12. Distribution of fixation duration for standard billboards in the daytime and nighttime.

The table shows the fixation duration on the road ahead during the day and night. The day time fixation peaks at <300ms (about 50%) with 400ms encompassing about 20% of the fixation, 500-600ms encompassing about 15% of the fixation, 700-800ms encompassing about 10% of the fixation and 900->2,000ms encompassing about 5% of the fixation. The night time fixation peaks at <3000ms (about 45%) with 400ms encompassing about 20% of the fixation, 500-700ms encompassing about 25% of the fixation and 800->2,0000ms encompassing about 10% of the fixation.
Figure 13. Distribution of fixation duration for road ahead (i.e., top and bottom road ahead ROIs) in the daytime and nighttime.

Dwell times on CEVMS and standard billboards were also examined. Dwell time is the duration of back-to-back fixations to the same ROI.(43,44) The dwell times represent the cumulative time for the back-to-back fixations. Whereas there may be no long, single fixation to a billboard, there might still be multiple fixations that yield long dwell times. There were a total of 25 separate instances of multiple fixations to CEVMS with a mean of 2.4 fixations (minimum of 2 and maximum of 5). The 25 dwell times came from 15 different participants distributed across four different CEVMS. The mean duration of these dwell times was 994 ms (minimum of 418 ms and maximum of 1,467 ms).

For standard billboards, there were a total of 17 separate dwell times with a mean of 3.47 sequential fixations (minimum of 2 fixations and maximum of 8 fixations). The 17 dwell times came from 11 different participants distributed across 4 different standard billboards. The mean duration of these multiple fixations was 1,172 ms (minimum of 418 ms and maximum of 3,319 ms). There were three dwell-time durations that were greater than 2,000 ms. These are described in more detail below.

In some cases several dwell times came from the same participant. In order to compute a statistic on the difference between dwell times for CEVMS and standard billboards, average dwell times were computed per participant for the CEVMS and standard billboard conditions. These average values were used in a t-test assuming unequal variances. The difference in average dwell time between CEVMS (M = 981 ms) and standard billboards (M= 1,386 ms) was not statistically significant, t(12) = -1.40, p >.05.

Figure 14 through figure 23 show heat maps for the dwell-time durations to the standard billboards that were greater than 2,000 ms. These heat maps are snapshots from the DCZ and attempt to convey in two dimensions the pattern of gazes that took place in a three dimensional world. The heat maps are set to look back approximately one to two seconds and integrate over time where the participant was gazing in the scene camera video. The green color in the heat map indicates the concentration of gaze over the past one to two seconds. The blue line indicates the gaze trail over the past one to two seconds.

Figure 14 through figure 16 are for a DCZ on an arterial at night. The standard billboard was on the right side of the road (indicated by a pink rectangle). There were eight fixations to this billboard, and the single fixations were between 200 to 384 ms in duration. The dwell time for this billboard was 2,019 ms. At the start of the DCZ (see figure 14), the driver was directing his/her gaze to the forward roadway. Approaching the standard billboard, the driver began to fixate on the billboard. However, the billboard was still relatively close to the road ahead ROI.

Screenshot illustrates a video frame that shows glances to a static billboard located on the right side of an arterial road at night. This shot shows the billboard the furthest distance from the car.
Figure 14. Heat map for the start of a DCZ for a standard billboard at night on an arterial.

Screenshot illustrates a video frame that shows glances to a static billboard located on the right side of an arterial road at night. This shot shows the billboard the middle distance to the car.
Figure 15. Heat map for the middle of a DCZ for a standard billboard at night on an arterial.

Screenshot illustrates a video frame that shows glances to a static billboard located on the right side of an arterial road at night. This shot shows the billboard the closest distance to the car.
Figure 16. Heat map near the end of a DCZ for a standard billboard at night on an arterial.

Figure 17 through figure 19 are for a DCZ on a freeway at night. The standard billboard was on the right side of the road (indicated by a green rectangle). There were six consecutive fixations to this billboard, and the single fixations were between 200 and 801 ms in duration. The dwell time for this billboard was 2,753 ms. At the start of the DCZ (see figure 17), the driver was directing his/her gaze to a freeway guide sign in the road ahead and the standard billboard was to the left of the freeway guide sign. As the driver approached the standard billboard, his/her gaze was directed toward the billboard. The billboard was relatively close to the top and bottom road ahead ROIs. Near the end of the DCZ (see figure 19), the billboard was accurately portrayed as being on the right side of the road.

Screenshot illustrates a video frame that shows glances to a static billboard located on the right side of a freeway at night. This shot shows the billboard the furthest distance from the car.
Figure 17. Heat map for start of a DCZ for a standard billboard at night on a freeway.

Screenshot illustrates a video frame that shows glances to a static billboard located on the right side of a freeway at night. This shot shows the billboard the middle distance to the car.
Figure 18. Heat map for middle of a DCZ for a standard billboard at night on a freeway.

Screenshot illustrates a video frame that shows glances to a static billboard located on the right side of a freeway at night. This shot shows the billboard the middle distance to the car.
Figure 19. Heat map near the end of a DCZ for a standard billboard at night on a freeway.

Figure 20 through figure 23 are for a DCZ on a freeway during the day. The standard billboard was on the right side of the road (indicated by a pink rectangle). This is the same DCZ that was discussed in figure 17 through figure 19. There were six consecutive fixations to this billboard, and the single fixations were between 217 and 767 ms in duration. The dwell time for this billboard was 3,319 ms. At the start of the DCZ (see figure 20), the driver was principally directing his/her gaze to the road ahead. Figure 21 and figure 22 show the location along the DCZ where gaze was directed toward the standard billboard. The billboard was relatively close to the top and bottom road-ahead ROIs. As the driver passed the standard billboard, his/her gaze returned to the road ahead (see figure 23).

Screenshot illustrates a video frame that shows glances to a static billboard located on the right side of a freeway during the day. This shot shows the billboard the furthest distance from the car.
Figure 20. Heat map for the start of a DCZ for a standard billboard in the daytime on a freeway.

Screenshot illustrates a video frame that shows glances to a static billboard located on the right side of a freeway during the day. This shot shows the billboard further away of the two middle distances to the car.
Figure 21. Heat map near the middle of a DCZ for a standard billboard in the daytime on a freeway.

Screenshot illustrates a video frame that shows glances to a static billboard located on the right side of a freeway during the day. This shot shows the billboard at one of the two middle distances closer to the car.
Figure 22. Heat map near the end of DCZ for standard billboard in the daytime on a freeway.

Screenshot illustrates a video frame that shows glances to a static billboard located on the right side of a freeway during the day. This shot shows the billboard the closest distance to the car.
Figure 23. Heat map at the end of DCZ for standard billboard in the daytime on a freeway.

Comparison of Gazes to CEVMS and Standard Billboards

The GEE were used to analyze whether a participant gazed more toward CEVMS than toward standard billboards, given that the participant was gazing at off-premise advertising. With this analysis method, a logistic regression model for repeated measures was generated by using a binomial response distribution and Logit link function. First, the data was partitioned to include only those instances when a participant was gazing toward off-premise advertising (either to a CEVMS or to a standard billboard); all other gaze behavior was excluded from the input data set. Only two possible outcomes are allowed when selecting a binomial response distribution. Thus, a variable (SBB_CEVMS) was created to classify a participant's gaze behavior. If the participant gazed toward a CEVMS, the value of SBB_CEVMS was set to one. If the participant gazed toward a standard billboard, then the value of SBB_CEVMS was set to zero.

Logistic regression typically models the probability of a success. In the current analysis, a success would be a gaze to a CEVMS (SBB_CEVMS = 1) and a failure would be a gaze to a standard billboard (SBB_CEVMS = 0).2 A success probability greater than 0.5 indicates there were more successes than failures in the sample. Therefore, if the sample probability of the response variable (i.e., SBB_CEVMS) was greater than 0.5, this would show that participants gazed more toward CEVMS than toward standard billboards when the participants gazed at off-premise advertising. In contrast, if the sample probability of the response variable was less than 0.5, then participants showed a preference to gaze more toward standard billboards than toward CEVMS when directing gazes to off-premise advertising.

Time of day (i.e., day or night), road type (i.e., freeway or arterial), and the corresponding interaction were explanatory variables in the logistic regression model. Road type was the only predictor to have a significant effect, X2 (1) = 13.17, p < 0.001. On arterials, participants gazed more toward CEVMS than toward standard billboards (M = 0.63). In contrast, participants gazed more toward standard billboards than toward CEVMS when driving on freeways (M = 0.33).

Observation of Driver Behavior

No near misses or driver errors were observed in Reading.

Level of Service

The mean vehicle densities were converted to level of service as shown in table 6.(45) As expected, less congestion occurred at night than in the day. In general, there was traffic during the data collection runs. Review of the scene camera data verified that all eye tracking data within the DCZs were recorded while the vehicle was in motion.

Table 6. Level of service as a function of advertising type, road type, and time of day.

  Arterial Freeway
  Day Night Day Night
Control B A C B
CEVMS C A B A
Standard A A B A

Discussion OF READING RESULTS

Overall the probability of gazing at the road ahead was high and similar in magnitude to what has been found in other field studies addressing billboards.(11,9,12) For the DCZs on freeways, CEVMS showed a lower proportion of gazes to the road ahead than the standard billboard condition, and both off-premise advertising conditions had lower probability of gazes to the road ahead than the control. On the other hand, on the arterials, the CEVMS and standard billboard conditions did not differ from each other but were significantly different from their respective control condition. Though the CEVMS condition on the freeway had the lowest proportion of gazes to the road ahead, in this condition there was a lower proportion of gazes to CEVMS as compared to the arterials (see table 5 for the trade-off of gazes to the different ROIs). A greater proportion of gazes to other ROIs (left side of the road, right side of the road, and participant vehicle) contributed to the decrease in proportion of gazes to the road ahead. Also, for the CEVMS on freeways, there were a few gazes to a standard billboard located in the same DCZ and there were more gazes distributed to the left and right side of the road than in standard billboard and control conditions. The gazes to ROIs other than CEVMS contributed to the lower probability of gazes to the road ahead in this condition.

The control condition on the arterial had buildings along the sides of the road and generally presented a visually cluttered area. As was presented earlier, the feature congestion measure computed on a series of photographs from each DCZ showed a significantly higher feature congestion score for the control condition on arterials as compared to all of the other DCZs. Nevertheless, the highest probability for gazing at the road ahead was seen in the control condition on the arterial.

The area with the highest feature congestion, especially on the sides of the road, had the highest probability for drivers looking at the road ahead. Bottom-up or stimulus driven measures of salience or visual clutter have been useful in predicting visual search and the effects of visual salience in laboratory tasks.(34,46) These measures of salience basically consider the stimulus characteristics (e.g., size, color, brightness) independent of the requirements of the task or plans that an individual may have. Models of visual salience may predict that buildings and other prominent features on the side of the road may be visually salient objects and thus would attract a driver's attention.(47) Figure 24 shows an example of a roadway photograph that was analyzed with the Salience Toolbox based on the Itti et al. implementation of a saliency based model of bottom-up attention.(48,49) The numbered circles in figure 24 are the first through fifth salient areas selected by the software. Based on this software, the most salient areas in the photographs are the buildings on the sides of the road where the road ahead (and a car) is the fifth selected salient area.

Photo of suburban straight-away road that shows 5 areas the software thought would command the most attention. Four were buildings on either side of the road and one was the car on the road ahead. There is a CEVMS billboard on the left side of the roadway.
Figure 24. Example of identified salient areas in a road scene based on bottom-up analysis.

It appears that in the present study participants principally kept their eyes on the road even in the presence of visual clutter on the sides of the road, which supports the hypothesis that drivers tend to look toward information relevant to the task at hand.(50,26,22) In the case of the driving task, visual clutter may be more of an issue with respect to crowding that may affect the driver's ability to detect visual information in the periphery.(51) Crowding is generally defined as the negative effect of nearby objects or features on visual discrimination of a target.(52) Crowding impairs the ability to recognize objects in clutter and principally affects perception in peripheral vision. However, crowing effects were not analyzed in the present study.

Stimulus salience, clutter, and the nature of the task at hand interact in visual perception. For tasks such as driving, the task demands tend to outweigh stimulus salience when it comes to gaze control. Clutter may be more of an issue with the detection and recognition of objects in peripheral vision (e.g., detecting a sign on the side of the road) that are surrounded by other stimuli that result in a crowding effect.

The mean fixation durations to CEVMS, standard billboards, and the road ahead were found to be very similar. Also, there were no long fixations (greater than 2,000 ms) to CEVMS or standard billboards. The examination of multiple sequential fixations to CEVMS yielded average dwell times that were less than 1,000 ms. However, when examining the tails of the distribution, there were three dwell times to standard billboards that were in excess of 2,000 ms (the three dwell times came from three different participants to two different billboards). These three standard billboards were dwelled upon when they were near the road ahead area but drivers quit gazing at the signs as they neared them and the signs were no longer near the forward field of view. Though there were three dwell times for standard billboards greater than 2,000 ms, the difference in average dwell times for CEVMS and standard billboards was not significant.
Using a gaze duration of 2,000 ms away from the road ahead as a criterion indicative of increased risk has been developed principally as it relates to looking inside the vehicle to in-vehicle information systems and other devices (e.g., for texting) where the driver is indeed looking completely away from the road ahead.(14,53,54) The fixations to the standard billboards in the present case showed a long dwell time for a billboard. However, unlike gazing or fixating inside the vehicle, the driver's gaze was within the forward roadway where peripheral vision could be used to monitor for hazards and for vehicle control. Peripheral vision has been shown to be important for lane keeping, visual search orienting, and monitoring of surrounding objects.(55,56)

The results showed that drivers were more likely to gaze at CEVMS on arterials and at standard billboards on freeways. Though every attempt was made to select CEVMS and standard billboard DCZs that were equated on important parameters (e.g., which side of the road the sign was located on, type of road, level of visual clutter), the CEVMS DCZs on freeways had a greater setback from the road (133 ft for both CEVMS) than the standard billboards (10 and 35 ft). Signs with greater setback from the road would in a sense move out of the forward view (road ahead) more quickly than signs that are closer to the road. The CEVMS and standard billboards on the arterials were more closely matched with respect to setback from the road (12 and 43 ft for CEVMS and 20 and 40 ft for standard billboards).

The differences in setback from the road for CEVMS and standard billboards may also account for differences in dwell times to these two types of billboards. However, on arterials where the CEVMS and standard billboards were more closely matched there was only one long dwell time (greater than 2,000 ms) and it was to a standard billboard at night.


1 During visual scanning, the point of gaze alternates between brief pauses (ocular fixations) and rapid shifts (saccades).

2 Success and failure are not used to reflect the merits of either type of sign, but only for statistical purposes.

Updated: 09/05/2014
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