Purpose. The importance of the visual system as the input channel for sensory information necessary when driving is often stated. There are several reports on differences in visual search strategies between experienced and inexperienced drivers, as well as in relation to the roadway. However, the results are ambiguous and are not sampled by similar procedures. Based on previous findings, the aim of the present study was to gain further knowledge on these differences by testing the hypotheses that inexperienced drivers, in comparison to experienced drivers, fixate closer to the vehicle, fixate more often on in-vehicle objects, spread their fixations less along the horizontal meridian, fixate more often on relevant traffic cues, and fixate more often on objects classified as potential hazards.
Methods. Data from eye-tracker recordings of visual search strategies of the driver in real-world traffic were used for the analyses.
Results. The results confirmed all stated hypotheses regarding differences between inexperienced and experienced drivers, with the exception of fixations closer to the vehicle, in which ambiguous results were found.
Conclusions. The present study provides normative data for the understanding of the development of visual search strategies among drivers. The methodology used in the present study, i.e., to combine a quantitative analysis with a qualitative analysis proved, to be useful to compare visual search strategies among inexperienced and experienced drivers.