Understanding how drivers respond to dangerous situations

Mentor: Dr. Benjamin Wolfe

Dr. Benjamin Wolfe

Project Description

If you are driving down the road and someone steps into the road ahead of you, what do you need to know to stop in time? How quickly can you understand the scene and understand what you can do to avoid a crash? I’ve shown that we can understand scenes in a fraction of a second, but understanding isn’t enough to be safe on the road. This project will study how drivers react to their environments to understand how we understand natural scenes, not just in driving. We will use video of real driving scenes in an online reaction time experiment to study how quickly observers understand and plan responses to dangerous driving situations. We will build an online experiment (in Javascript, building on existing experiments in the lab), collect data from participants, analyze that data (in R) and use it to improve our understanding of how drivers understand dangerous situations (building on previous work from the lab). Understanding how drivers’ reaction time changes as a function of their task, like whether they have to choose where to turn or just report a dangerous situation, will make roads safer for everyone, not just drivers. The student who works on this project will be involved at all stages, from helping to build the experiment to presenting the final results, and they will also gain experience in applying their knowledge of vision science and psychology to more applied questions, showing them what they can do with a PhD in Psychology.

Mentorship Statement

As a mentor, the most important thing I can do for my students is to help them develop their own ideas and questions. I focus on teaching students to apply findings from vision research to real-world problems, and a key part of this is encouraging them to bring their own perspectives to the work. I focus on developing their technical skills in programming, analysis and presentation as well as helping them to develop as thinkers and scientists. Students gain these skills through a mix of individual meetings and lab-wide discussions meant to help everyone learn together. As your mentor, I want you to have the tools you need to take your knowledge into the world and have the impact you want, asking the questions you want answers to, and helping all of us understand the complexity of the visual world.

Project ID 584