Richard Hughes, PE ::::
Case Synopsis: Humans have two fields of view, peripheral and primary. The primary field of view is approximately a 15 degree angle from the pupil while the peripheral is approximately a 45 degree angle. A person’s primary field of view is always focused on their point of destination or most probably danger such as another pedestrian or a moving car. Only when a person is ambulating faster than their comfort level do they look down at their feet. Such is the scenario when a person is running, jogging, or walking on ice and it is not customary for them.
To attract a person’s primary field of view into their peripheral, it takes an exciter color (red, orange, yellow, white stripe), a color contrast or a visual cue such as a handrail. That is why stop signs and fire equipment as well as exit signs are red. People also have an iconic memory which registers short term important events and then erases them from memory.
Quite often when a person trips or falls over an object, the first thought one may have is that he or she was not watching where they were walking. This statement is almost instinctive; yet, due to extensive research on human behavior, building codes and standards have been established which warn of such trivial details which upon first glance appear obvious and innocent. Research has shown that low level projecting objects in excess of ½ inch are one of the most dangerous details that humans encounter. Thousands of people get seriously injured in this country every year on such an innocuous detail. Therefore, the building codes and standards warn of such defects. Bad results do not necessarily mean bad behavior. Otherwise, we could remove banisters from staircases, seat belts from cars and smoke detectors from homes. The building code does not design and dictate for 99.9% of activity but rather that remote chance that occurs, like safety glass in the front door of a school that millions of kids will safely open, but we design it for the one who might go through it.