Synchronizing self-displacement with a cross-traffic gap: How does the size of traffic vehicles impact continuous speed regulations?

  • Louveton Nicolas
  • Montagne G.
  • Berthelon C.

  • Perception-action
  • Road crossing
  • Motion perception
  • Collision avoidance
  • Optical size
  • Driving simulator


In this article, we investigated what visual information is used by drivers at a road crossing when they want to synchronize their displacement with that of an incoming traffic train. We made the hypothesis that synchronizing self-displacement with that of a traffic gap shares the same perceptual-motor basis as interception tasks. While a large body of literature demonstrates that bearing angle is used to control interception, another range of studies points to optical size and expansion as playing a critical role in collision avoidance. In order to test the hypothesis of the exclusive use of bearing angle in road crossing task, we manipulated the optical size and expansion of oncoming traffic elements independently of bearing angle variations. We designed a driving simulator study in which participants were to adjust their approach speed in order to cross a road junction within a moving traffic gap. We manipulated the initial offset of participants with the traffic gap, the geometry of the road junction and the way optical size of oncoming traffic elements evolves over the course of a trial. Our results showed an effect of optical size and optical expansion manipulations eventhough, we also found similar displacement profiles as in interception studies. This demonstrates that bearing angle could not explain alone the control of such a complex perceptual-motor task. We discuss these results with regard to similar results in other fields of literature.