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This extensive data collection effort resulted in ap- proximately 2 million miles of driving, 42,000 hours of data with 241 primary and secondary driver participants. The data collected produced results such as 15 police- reported and 82 total crashes and collisions (defined as contact between the subject vehicle and another vehicle, object, pedestrian, cyclist, or animal), 761 near-crashes (defined as a rapid, severe evasive maneuver to avoid a crash), and 8,295 incidents (defined as an evasive ma- neuver of less magnitude than a near-crash).

Because the participants disregard the presence of ve- hicle instrumentation quickl , the event database contains many extreme cases of driving behavior and performance, including severe fatigue, impairment, judgment error, risk taking, secondary task engagement, aggressive driving, and traffic law violation.”

Nearly 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of all near-crashes involved driver inattention just prior (i.e., within 3 seconds) to the onset of the incident. Visual inattention was a contributing factor for 93 percent of rear-end-striking crashes. Hand-held wireless devices (primarily cell phones but a small amount of PDA’s were used) were associated with the highest frequency of distrac- tion-related events for both incidents and near-crashes.

This data collection led researchers to discover that engaging in secondary activity tasks that require mul- tiple steps or glancing away from the forward roadway increases risk by two to three times. Certain behaviors increased the risk of involvement in a near-crash or crash. Reaching for a moving object increased risk by nine times, looking at an external object 3.7 times, read- ing 3.4 times, applying makeup three times and dialing hand-held devices by 2.8 times.

However, driving drowsy was found to be the most dan- gerous factor leading to crashes, as it increases an individu- al’s near-crash or crash risk by four to six times. Drowsiness was found to be a factor in 20 percent of all crashes and 16 percent of near-crashes.This is significantly higher than the less than 10 percent that current databases estimate.

Researchers found age was clearly a factor in the likeli- hood of being involved in an inattention-related crash or near-crash. These events decreased dramatically with age, with the rate being as much as four times higher for drivers ranging from 18 to 20 than older groups of drivers.

While drivers younger than 18 years old were not tested, the results of the 100-Car Study have led researchers at VTTI to explore driver performance of additional age groups in another naturalistic driving research project. Research- ers at VTTI partnered with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to conduct a study on the effects of driving experience on novice-teen driving performance and the extent of intra-individual variability in driving performance under specific driving conditions such as night and with teen passengers.

The study is being conducted in two parts. The first part includes a test track study assessing on-road driv- ing performance of recruited teens and parents in in- strumented vehicles. Parents are tested twice (once at zero months and once at 12 months) and teens are tested four times (at zero, six, 12 and 18 months after licensure). Researchers are able to vary the test-track environment and test the participants in different con- ditions at different points in their licensure.

The second part of the study consists of a naturalistic driving study. Teen driver participants are recorded con- tinuously during the first 18 months after receiving their driver’s licenses. Similar to 100-Car Study, a naturalistic method is being used in which the participants’ own ve- hicles are instrumented with cameras, sensors, and ra- dar. Participants are instructed to drive the vehicles as they normally would throughout the 18 months.

The results of this study will provide transportation researchers with a more complete understanding of how teens learn to drive over the first 18 months of inde- pendent driving. This type of real-world data has never been available until now. This study will mark the first time that exposure to various risk factors can be directly compared to involvement in crashes and near-crashes, which will provide a better understanding of the true magnitude of these risk factors. Results of the study are expected to be released in stages for at least the next year. The completion of this study and the release of the results will help provide information to legislators who are working on graduated driver licensing laws as well as other safety-related legislation, and hopefully lead to a significant reduction in teen fatalities. M

Left: A view of the instrumentation system up by the rear-view mirror. Below: The 100-car study data acquisition systems in the trunk of a car.

Fall 2008 | MOVE 27

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