Road vehicles — Ergonomic aspects of in-vehicle presentation for transport information and control systems — Warning systems

ISO/TR 16352:2005 provides a literature survey about the human-machine interface of warning systems in vehicles. It covers the experimental experiences about the efficiency and acceptance of different modalities and combinations of warnings, and the design of the sensorial, code and organizational parameters of visual, auditory and tactile warnings.

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REPORT 16352
First edition

Road vehicles — Ergonomic aspects
of in-vehicle presentation for transport
information and control systems —
Warning systems
Véhicules routiers — Aspects ergonomiques de la présentation des
systèmes de commande et d'information des transports à l'intérieur des
véhicules — Systèmes avertisseurs

Reference number
ISO/TR 16352:2005(E)
ISO 2005

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ISO/TR 16352:2005(E)
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ii © ISO 2005 – All rights reserved

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ISO/TR 16352:2005(E)
Contents Page
Foreword. v
Introduction . vi
1 Scope. 1
2 Warning signals. 2
2.1 Criteria of warning effects . 2
2.2 Categorization of warning signal failure . 4
2.3 Urgency mapping. 6
2.4 Alarm theories. 8
2.5 Design recommendations. 10
3 Psychological and physiological aspects. 10
3.1 Human processing of warnings . 10
3.2 Workload. 12
3.3 Expectancy. 13
3.4 Further human factors, individual differences . 13
3.5 Recommendations. 14
4 Sensorial modality. 15
5 Visual warning signals . 17
5.1 Psychological/physiological bases. 18
5.2 Types of visual displays . 19
5.3 Design parameters. 20
5.3.1 Sensorial-related parameters. 20
5.3.2 Coding parameters. 24
5.3.3 Organizational parameters. 37
6 Auditory warnings . 39
6.1 Psychological/physiological bases. 40
6.2 Advantages of auditory presentation . 41
6.3 Tonal signals, auditory icons . 42
6.3.1 Advantages of tonal signals . 42
6.3.2 Standards. 42
6.3.3 Attributes. 42
6.3.4 Sensorial parameters. 44
6.3.5 Coding parameters. 47
6.3.6 Organizational parameters. 54
6.4 Speech output. 55
6.4.1 Advantages of speech output . 56
6.4.2 Sensorial-related parameters. 56
6.4.3 Coding parameters. 60
6.4.4 Organizational parameters. 63
6.4.5 Warning applications of speech output . 65
6.5 Comparison of tonal signals and speech output . 66
7 Tactile warnings. 68
7.1 Advantages of tactile presentation. 68
7.2 Design parameters. 70
7.2.1 Sensorial-related parameters. 70
7.2.2 Coding parameters. 71
8 Redundancy of message presentation. 71
8.1 Visual/auditory combination. 72
8.2 Visual/auditory qualities for in-vehicle displays . 73
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ISO/TR 16352:2005(E)
8.3 Visual/auditory indications for displays . 74
8.4 Visual/auditory/tactile combination . 74
8.5 Master alerting. 75
8.6 Other concepts. 75
9 Comparison of warning types, codes and modalities. 77
9.1 Visual/auditory presentation of non-verbally-coded objects . 77
9.2 Visual/auditory presentation of verbally-coded objects/abstract information. 78
9.3 Visual/auditory presentation of verbally-/non-verbally-coded spatial information. 79
9.4 Visual presentation of non-verbally-coded information/auditory presentation of verbally-
coded information. 81
9.5 Visual/tactile presentation of non-verbally-coded objects/spatial information. 82
9.6 Auditory/tactile presentation of non-verbally-coded objects/spatial information . 85
9.7 Visual/auditory/tactile presentation of verbally-coded objects/abstract information. 86
9.8 Recommendations for warning systems. 86
10 Warnings in assistance systems. 88
10.1 Distance warning systems. 91
10.2 Collision warning systems. 92
10.3 Side-obstacle warning systems. 98
10.4 Lane-departure warning systems. 100
10.5 Manoeuvring aids for low speed operation. 102
10.6 Usability of intelligent-transport-systems information for drivers . 104
10.7 Other assistance systems. 104
11 Warnings in other applications. 105
11.1 Aircraft. 105
11.2 Intensive care unit. 106
11.3 Industrial plants . 106
12 Discussion. 108
13 Summary. 110
13.1 Introduction . 110
13.2 Warning signals. 110
13.3 Psychological and physiological aspects, sensorial modality . 111
13.4 Visual warning signals . 111
13.5 Auditory warnings. 113
13.6 Tactile warnings. 115
13.7 Redundancy of message presentation . 116
13.8 Comparison of warning types, codes and modalities. 116
13.9 Warnings in assistance systems. 117
13.10 Warning in other applications. 118
Bibliography . 119

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ISO/TR 16352:2005(E)
ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies
(ISO member bodies). The work of preparing International Standards is normally carried out through ISO
technical committees. Each member body interested in a subject for which a technical committee has been
established has the right to be represented on that committee. International organizations, governmental and
non-governmental, in liaison with ISO, also take part in the work. ISO collaborates closely with the
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) on all matters of electrotechnical standardization.
International Standards are drafted in accordance with the rules given in the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 2.
The main task of technical committees is to prepare International Standards. Draft International Standards
adopted by the technical committees are circulated to the member bodies for voting. Publication as an
International Standard requires approval by at least 75 % of the member bodies casting a vote.
In exceptional circumstances, when a technical committee has collected data of a different kind from that
which is normally published as an International Standard (“state of the art”, for example), it may decide by a
simple majority vote of its participating members to publish a Technical Report. A Technical Report is entirely
informative in nature and does not have to be reviewed until the data it provides are considered to be no
longer valid or useful.
Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject of patent
rights. ISO shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent rights.
ISO/TR 16352 was prepared by Technical Committee ISO/TC 22, Road vehicles, Subcommittee SC 13,
Ergonomics applicable to road vehicles.
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ISO/TR 16352:2005(E)
From a task/function analytic perspective, the task of driving is composed of three major interlinked categories
of activity (Hancock and Parasuraman, 1992):
a) vehicle control;
b) navigation;
c) collision avoidance.
Each of these functions contribute to the overall workload imposed on the driver. Even under routine, low-
traffic conditions, the driver must co-ordinate several tasks together and, generally, can do so quite efficiently.
Many of these task components become highly automatized with practice, so that under normal driving
conditions the demands of divided attention on the drivers will generally be within the limits of their attentional
capacity. However, during more demanding traffic situations, for example, when traffic density increases or at
intersections or traffic roundabouts, divided attention demands may sometimes exceed a driver's capabilities.
The driver has to deal with a lot of information which has different situation-dependent priorities and which is
more or less expected by the driver. Highly demanding situations are characterized by high time and spatial
density or by an extended spatial range of information. Parts of the information are natural and parts are
coded within or outside the vehicle. While receiving, processing and reacting to the information, the driver can
be overtaxed, which results in critical driving situations with increased accident probability.
This is the motivation to support the driver with assistance systems. The degree of assistance available
seems likely to increase considerably over the coming years. Assistance systems can, for example, control
speed and distance between vehicles and vehicle position in relation to the road. They not only aim to
optimize driver strain and increase driving safety, but also to achieve maximum driver acceptance. For
example, the S.A.N.T.O.S system is a (adaptive) driver-assistance system which integrates systems like
active cruise control (ACC), heading control (HC), navigation, telephone and radio (Weiße et al., 2002).
Most of these assistance systems announce any abnormal or dangerous state of the car or the driving
environment to the driver and require a relatively quick reaction by the driver. These systems warn the driver
and convey an appropriate message to the driver. So, with an increasing number of assistance systems, more
respective warnings are expected. These warnings need to be designed individually and with respect to their

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Road vehicles — Ergonomic aspects of in-vehicle presentation
for transport information and control systems — Warning
1 Scope
This Technical Report provides a literature survey about the human-machine interface of warning systems in
vehicles, including studies of ISO/TC 22/SC 13/WG 8 and ISO/TC 204/WG 14. It covers the experimental
experiences about the efficiency and acceptance of different modalities and combinations of warnings, and
the design of the sensorial, code and organizational parameters of visual, auditory and tactile warnings (as
well as concluding recommendations). The survey should initialize standardizing activities of ISO working
groups, e.g. ISO/TC 22/SC 13/WG 8.
This literature survey comprises the human-machine interface issues of warning systems in automobiles. The
discussion of warning signals in general is dealt with in Clause 2 and concerns the definition of warning
signals, their failure and urgency aspects. Alarm theories are briefly dealt with here. The basic psychological
and physiological aspects of warnings in vehicles are the subject of Clause 3. Some issues of human
behaviour, which are relevant to handling warnings, are described.
Due to their importance, the sensorial modalities are introduced separately in Clause 4. Auditory and tactile
presentations are becoming more and more important, which is reflected in the structure of the next three
Clauses 5, 6 and 7. The specific psychological and physiological bases, benefits and types of displays for
each sensory modality are presented in these clauses. Clause 5 is dedicated to visual warning displays with a
few examples of the sensorial-related parameters. Symbols, icons and text are discussed extensively. Other
coding and organizational features are handled as far as warning signals are affected (colour, blinking,
structures, etc.).
Clause 6 is dedicated to auditory warning displays. The basic differences and the respective benefits of tonal
signals, auditory icons and speech output are explained. This is the largest clause because of its significance
for oncoming information and warning systems in cars. The display parameters, which are particularly relevant
for auditory warning signals, are presented in more detail, i.e. startling effect, temporal and spatial
characteristics. The new auditory icons are elaborated more in detail because of their relevance for collision
warning systems. The sensorial, coding and organizational parameters of speech output are described in a
comprehensive manner.
Clause 7 is dedicated to tactile warning displays. Although the potential of tactile warnings has been clearly
demonstrated, data for their design is very scarce.
The redundant presentation of warnings is described in Clause 8. The experimental results of different
visual/auditory combinations are presented, as well as visual/auditory/tactile combinations. The possible
transfer of master alertings from the avionic environment into the automobile environment is discussed. Other
concepts like the graded sequence of warnings are included.
The experimental results with different warning signals and their combinations are presented in Clause 9 with
respect to type, code and modality of the warnings. The benefits of visual, auditory and tactile warnings
depend on whether objects, spatial relations or abstract information are transmitted verbally or non-verbally. A
series of field experiments with symbolic, written, tonal, spoken and tactile warnings are reported.
Clause 10 includes some of the assistance systems that have just been introduced, such as distance warning
systems, or that are about to be introduced, such as side-obstacle warning systems. All of these are relatively
time-critical and need carefully designed warnings with a particular emphasis on auditory and tactile displays.
The recent experimental results are cited.
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ISO/TR 16352:2005(E)
In Clause 11, warning systems in other domains, especially avionics, are described. The extensive
experiences with the problems of several time-critical alarms in aircrafts as well as the flood of alarms in
power plants will be exemplified.
Clause 12 is dedicated to the discussion of the previous clauses and their relevance for warnings in vehicles.
Drivers are assisted in highly demanding driving situations by technical systems. There will be
more assistance systems in the near future with appropriate warnings for the driver. Not all
warnings will be a priori appropriate. Guidance from this study will help ensure they are
“appropriate”. The scope of this Technical Report is to survey the literature about the human-
machine interface of warning systems. It includes papers about the efficiency and acceptance of
different modalities and combinations of warnings and the design of the sensorial, coding and
organizational parameters of visual, auditory and tactile warnings.
2 Warning signals
2.1 Criteria of warning effects
The word “warning” implies a range of levels from simple situation indications to more imperative warnings
and commands directed toward the driver to perform a certain task (ISO/TC 204/WG 14, Komoda and Goudy,
There are several technical processing stages of warnings (Kopf, 1998):
⎯ detection of object, reading of sensor data, filtering;
⎯ recognition of situation;
⎯ evaluation of situation;
⎯ output of warning.
Warnings are designed to provide someone, exposed to that product or situation, with information in addition
to that which that person could reasonably be expected to possess. The designer is trying in some way to
influence the behaviour of the recipient of the warning. This could mean preventing someone from doing
something that he or she otherwise might have done, or it could mean getting him or her to do something that
might otherwise have been omitted. The receiver of the warning then has the task of deciding whether the
advantages in complying with the warning outweigh the costs of doing so.
An emergency signal paradigm is usually one where two components are operating in tandem. The first
component consists of a mechanical device that uses sensor logic to determine if and when to trigger a signal
(Getty et al., 1995). It involves proper setting of the sensor decision threshold. If the criterion is set too strictly,
false signals will be minimized, but there is the possibility that dangerous situations will go unsignalled. If the
criterion is set too leniently, fewer dangerous situations will go unsignalled (missed signals), but the false
signal rate will rise. The solution to this dilemma requires designing the physical components of the system to
optimize the trade-off between minimized false signals and maximized sensitivity.
The second component of an emergency signal response paradigm is the human operator, who is responsible
for detecting, evaluating and responding (or not responding) to the signal that is generated by the sensor-
based signalling system. Consideration of the second component is necessarily a more complex process than
manipulating the first component, due to the cognitive and perceptual processes of the human operator.
One has to differentiate between behaviour that occurs naturally in the relevant situation without a warning
necessarily being present, and the ‘added value’ that the warning might bring. The particular effect the
warning will have has to be known, so that the relative effects of different warning variables on compliance
can be assessed. The distinction between amount of compliance with and without the warning is crucial.
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ISO/TR 16352:2005(E)
Warnings are artefacts. They are representations of the situations to which they refer. Most warnings serve
two functions: the alerting function and the informing function. The alerting function is somewhat abstract,
being emotive or motivational or both. The informing function is more explicit. For example, an auditory
warning may be overwhelmingly alerting, but contain no information at all beyond the fact that something has
gone wrong. Vice versa, a warning text may contain a minimal alerting effect, but may contain lots of
Also relevant is the knowledge of the situation in which the warning occurs. Together the factors that have an
alerting function can be seen as the iconic aspects of warning. Such aspects act almost instantaneously and
require little conscious information processing. Generally one of the aims of a warning is to produce a rapid
alerting response which is appropriate to the product or situation. The alerting function results from more than
just, for example, the signal word, but results from the entire warning-in-context.
A warning is rated information (Kopf, 1998). A good warning should include:
⎯ an element which attracts the attention;
⎯ a reason for the warning;
⎯ the consequences if the warning is not observed;
⎯ instruction for actions.
There are different false warnings (Kopf, 1998, see 2.2):
⎯ time-dependent false warning: too early, too late;
⎯ logical false warning: no warning in critical situation and vice versa;
⎯ qualitative false warning: too many, too few, too strong, too weak.
Figure 1 shows the remaining time as a function of time when the warning is successful, not necessary or too
late, which results in an accident, depending on the moment of the driver's reaction.
To test the efficiency and impairment of warning systems, the following aspects have to be considered (Breuer
et al., 1994):
⎯ impairment (e.g. startling effect);
⎯ reliable detection and identification (conspicuousness, clearness);
⎯ transformation in safe behaviour.

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ISO/TR 16352:2005(E)

X time
Y remaining time
1 time of warning
2 driver's reaction
3 unnecessary warning
4 successful warning
5 accident
Figure 1 — Time aspects of warning (Kopf, 1998)
2.2 Categorization of warning signal failure
Pritchett (1997) investigated the pilot's non-conformance to alerting systems (see 11.1). Pilot´s non-
conformance changes the final behaviour of the system and therefore may reduce actual performance from
that anticipated.
The pil

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