Vulnerable road users (VRUs) constitute an increasing proportion of the annual road fatalities across Europe. One of the crash types involved in these fatalities are blind spot crashes between trucks and bicyclists. Despite the presence of mandatory blind spot mirrors, truck drivers are often reported to have overlooked the presence of a bicyclist. This raises the question if and when truck drivers check their blind spot mirrors for the presence of bicyclists, and which factors contribute to such glance behavior.
The current study presents the results of an analysis of naturalistic glance behavior by 39 truck drivers in 1,903 right-turning maneuvers at urban intersections, where in each maneuver there was a chance of crossing the path of a bicyclist. The descriptive analysis revealed that most often truck drivers did not cast a glance upon their blind spot mirrors as recommended by the examination guidelines. Furthermore, a choice model was developed with the main factors that have an impact on glance behavior.
Drivers were more likely to glance with a priority regulation that allowed conflicts, with lower speed limits, with zebra crossings, without cyclist facilities, without a lead vehicle making the same maneuver, in presence of VRUs, without adverse sight conditions, in lower age groups, without certain non-driving related activities, when driving a truck with more direct vision on VRUs, and without a camera providing a view on the blind spot, and with less time between a standstill and starting the maneuver. Three factors did not significantly improve the choice model and were therefore left out, despite showing significant effects in bivariate tests: intersection layout (e.g., three vs. four legs), presence of advanced stopping lanes, and visual obstruction. Implications of the choice model are discussed for driver education (in terms of timely glances, reducing inattention, and hazard anticipation) and vehicle design (in terms of direct vision).