An example of one of our studies using the driving simulator is Realistic Simulation in A Driving Simulator.
Using a high fidelity driving simulator located at CIRP, researchers are conducting a number of studies to help us understand how to best assess driving skills, how various driving scenarios affect drivers’ behaviors and emotions, and how interventions affect driving behavior and skill level. Driving simulators have made huge technological advances over the past several years and now achieve realistic reproductions of driving experiences and conditions. Controlled scenarios typical in the driving environment, such as dynamic traffic behaviors, pedestrians, time of day, and weather, can be programmed into the simulator to fit the needs of our studies.
One study involves collecting data on drivers' performance in a simulator, playing back the scenarios to those drivers, and asking them to describe their behaviors and perceived emotions associated with these scenarios. Understanding how various driving scenarios affect drivers, both objectively and subjectively, allows us to design interventions to target the causal relationship between potential risks on the road and driving outcomes. The research team also uses the driving simulator to evaluate the effect of interventions targeting individual behaviors, as well as to validate tools that assess skill level.
Analysis of Existing Data Sources
Analyses of these existing sources of data often yield important population-level insights and trends in teen driving safety, as well as the ability to monitor important metrics of success in reducing the number of teens killed or injured in motor vehicle crashes.
This approach involves identifying a number of existing sources of data to use in our teen driving safety research. Typically, we conduct novel epidemiologic analyses of these data or identify unique subgroups of interest from among larger populations included. This data primarily comes from federal government sources such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (including the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the National Automotive Sampling System, and National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Study) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (including the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System and the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System).
An example of this approach is Miles to go: Focusing on Risks for Teen Driver Safety.
On-road Driving Assessment
Two versions of an on-road driving assessment were developed and tested for feasibility of administration and initial construct validity with 23 learner (less than 5 hours of practice at enrollment) teen drivers. To be administered early in the learner permit period (12 weeks after enrollment), the first route was designed to safely assess teens with a minimal amount of driving experience. A second more challenging route was designed to be administered to learner drivers at the end of the permit holding period (24 weeks after enrollment). After the teens drove each of the "early" and "late" routes once, we compared their driving performance to two separate samples of experienced adult drivers for overall rates of driving errors, the proportion of each group that had to terminate their drive due to safety concerns, as well as the proportion of each group that committed at least one critical error. In addition, we examined the correlation between error rates and an overeall driving competency assessment from an experienced evaluator.