Learning headway estimation in driving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: The main purpose of the present study was to examine to what extent the ability to attain a required headway of 1 or 2 s can be improved through practical driving instruction under real traffic conditions and whether the learning is sustained after a period during which there has been no controlled training. Background: The failure of drivers to estimate headways correctly has been demonstrated in previous studies. Methods: Two methods of training were used: time based (in seconds) and distance based (in a combination of meters and car lengths). For each method, learning curves were examined for 18 participants at speeds of 50, 80, and 100 km/hr. Results: The results indicated that drivers were weak in estimating headway prior to training using both methods. The learning process was rapid for both methods and similar for all speeds; thus, after one trial with feedback, there was already a significant improvement. The learning was retained over time, for at least the 1 month examined in this study. Conclusion: Both the time and distance training of headway improved drivers' ability to attain required headways, with the learning being maintained over a retention interval. The learning process was based on perceptual cues from the driving scene and feedback from the experimenter, regardless of the formal training method. Application: The implications of these results are that all drivers should be trained in headway estimation using an objective distance measuring device, which can be installed on driver instruction vehicles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-744
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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