Influence of Person- and Situation-Specific Characteristics on Collision Avoidance Behavior in Human Locomotion

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In everyday situations, pedestrians deploy successful strategies to avoid collisions with other persons crossing their paths. In this study, 2 experiments were conducted to investigate to what extent personal or situational characteristics affect role attribution and contribution to successful collision avoidance in human locomotion. Pairs of subjects walked at their natural speed from a start to a goal point. Walking paths were defined in such a way that subjects would collide halfway on their trajectory, if they did not actively avoid colliding by speed or path adjustments. In the first experiment, we investigated whether crossing order, path, and speed adjustments correlate with subject-specific parameters, such as gender, height, and personality traits. It is interesting that individuals’ collision avoidance behavior was not correlated with any of these factors. In the second experiment, initial walking speed and heading were used to predict the crossing order. It was found that these 2 parameters are sufficient to estimate future role attribution with 95% confidence already 2.5 m before the crossing; that is, even before any collision avoidance behavior is initiated. In sum, this suggests that collision avoidance strategies in human locomotion are based on situational rather than on personal characteristics. These situational characteristics result in role attributions, which are highly predictable within and across pairs of pedestrians, whereby the role-dependent contribution of the pedestrian giving way is of greater relevance for successful collision avoidance.

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