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Visibility problems in nighttime driving


In: Accident Reconstruction: Automobiles, Tractor-Semitrailers, Motorcycles, and Pedestrians. Warrendale, SAE, Feb 1987, p. 97-112; DOI: 10.4271/870600

Authors: Paul L. Olson

Many traffic accident cases involve questions of driver visual perception. It is common for one or both sides to employ experts in such matters. These individuals often make use of reconstructions in an effort to arrive at an opinion concerning driver perception. While such reconstructions can be helpful, they can also be very misleading. The purpose of this report is to review basic information concerning visual perception, to lay a foundation for understanding how the visual system works under nighttime driving conditions. Applied research on night driving will be covered as well, with a particular focus on detecting conditions in the forward field. The report concludes with a section on problems that can degrade visual performance at night.