Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Human Factors Psychology

Committee Chair/Advisor

Gugerty, Leo

Committee Member

Muth , Eric

Committee Member

Switzer , Fred

Committee Member

Tyrrell , Rick


This experiment applies methodologies and theories of visual search and attention to the subject of conspicuity in automobile rear lighting. Based on these theories, this experiment has four goals. First, it is proposed that current research methods used to investigate rear lighting are inadequate and a proposed methodology based on the visual search paradigm is introduced. Second, demonstrate that current rear lighting on automobiles does not effectively meet the stated purpose of regulators. Third, propose a more effective system for increasing the conspicuity of brake lamps. A fourth goal is to validate and extend previous simulator research on this same topic. This experiment demonstrates that detection of red automobile brake lamps will be improved if tail lamps are another color (amber) rather than red, as currently mandated. The experiment is an extension and validation of previous simulation studies. Results indicate that RT and error are reduced in detecting the presence and absence of red brake lamps with multiple lead vehicles when tail lamps are not red compared to current rear lighting which mandates red tail lamps. This performance improvement is attributed to parallel visual processing that automatically segregates tail (amber) and brake (red) lamp colors into distractors and targets respectively.

Included in

Psychology Commons



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