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OBJECTIVE: Four experiments were conducted in order to assess the effectiveness of dynamic vibrotactile collision-warning signals in potentially enhancing safe driving. BACKGROUND: Auditory neuroscience research has demonstrated that auditory signals that move toward a person are more salient than those that move away. If this looming effect were found to extend to the tactile modality, then it could be utilized in the context of in-car warning signal design. METHOD: The effectiveness of various vibrotactile warning signals was assessed using a simulated car-following task. The vibrotactile warning signals consisted of dynamic toward-/away-from-torso cues (Experiment 1), dynamic versus static vibrotactile cues (Experiment 2), looming-intensity- and constant-intensity-toward-torso cues (Experiment 3), and static cues presented on the hands or on the waist, having either a low or high vibration intensity (Experiment 4). RESULTS: Braking reaction times (BRTs) were significantly faster for toward-torso as compared to away-from-torso cues (Experiments 1 and 2) and static cues (Experiment 2). This difference could not have been attributed to differential responses to signals delivered to different body parts (i.e., the waist vs. hands; Experiment 4). Embedding a looming-intensity signal into the toward-torso signal did not result in any additional BRT benefits (Experiment 3). CONCLUSION: Dynamic vibrotactile cues that feel as though they are approaching the torso can be used to communicate information concerning external events, resulting in a significantly faster reaction time to potential collisions. APPLICATION: Dynamic vibrotactile warning signals that move toward the body offer great potential for the design of future in-car collision-warning system.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Factors

Publication Date





329 - 346


break reaction time, car following, driving, front-to-rear-end collision, haptic, interface design, Accidents, Traffic, Adult, Automobile Driving, Computer Simulation, Female, Humans, Male, Reaction Time, Touch, Vibration, Young Adult