Van El Slande, P., INRETS, France
The explanation usually given to explain accidents in curves refers to the difficulties involved in acquiring, through practice, sensorial-motor skills for manoeuvring through trajectories. While not seeking to downplay this essential aspect, a complementary hypothesis has given rise to the research presented here, with a view to shedding light on the cognitive aspects involved in driving through curves. On a theoretical level, this research is based on a mental categorisation model for scenes and events. The method used consists in presenting two corpuses of 40 photographs: 1) of curves with different intensities and 2) of the approach to the same curves, to two independent groups of subjects: 1) beginner drivers and 2) experienced drivers, whose task was to classify together the sites for which they would adopt identical driving strategies. Once the classification was made, the subjects had to explain the criteria on which their categories were based. The results obtained show that experienced drivers have both a better structuring of spaces around homogenous criteria and a greater differentiation as to what concerns the "section" (the approach to the curve) and what concerns the "point" (the curve itself). Beginner subjects produce more heterogeneous classifications and have a hard time differentiating between the curve and its approach. The verbal data support these differences.