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Official Guide to the Government Court: N.Z. Centennial Exhibition

Transport Department

Transport Department

The skilful control of a motor vehicle in fast-moving traffic requires quick reactions, efficient sight and hearing, good judgment and a sense of responsibility.

To test the various psychological and physical factors which, together, make a skilful driver, and to gauge his potential and acquired skill, a number of instruments have been devised, the most important of which are the "Vigilance" machine-and the "Vision" machine included in the Transport Department's exhibit.

The "Vigilance" machine consists of the essential controls of a motor-car. The person being tested sits in the driver's seat of the machine. He has the impression of driving along a road and is required to meet certain emergencies and to keep the car, which tends to wander, on the correct side of the road. Various situations are presented to him, and his reactions are recorded by the machine. At a given signal, he has to apply the brake as quickly as possible, the time taken in the operation being measured in hundredths of a second.

The "Vision" machine measures the various visual factors important in skilful driving. These include colour blindness, keenness of vision, astigmatism, susceptibility to glare, tunnel vision and the time taken to recover from the effects of dazzling lights.

The machines will gauge the skill and driving ability of the person tested and" will indicate to him in what respect his ability is below or above the average. For instance, a driver may discover that his eyes are more than normally susceptible at night time to the after-effects of glare, or that he is less able at night time accurately to estimate relative speeds and distances. By allowing for these differences during night driving, his chances of being involved in a serious accident are Very much lessened. The tests will also throw light on a number of major driving problems and will assist in the formulation of remedial measures.

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