Vulnerable Road User Safety

Instrumented vehicle studies examining driver attention towards vulnerable road users at intersections

The role of human factors research is to provide an understanding of how drivers perform as a system component in the safe operation of vehicles. This role recognizes that driver performance is influenced by many environmental, psychological, and vehicle design factors. An on-road study may provide such high level of ecological validity. Crash data indicate that misallocation of attention is a major source of conflicts particularly with vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists) at intersections. A better understanding of how and why attentional failures occur can inform the design of interventions (e.g., educational programs for high-risk drivers, infrastructure design) to enhance overall vulnerable road user safety.

It is known that drivers experience increased visual and mental demands while driving through or making turns at intersections, as intersections require drivers to divide their attention in several directions and toward a variety of traffic participants (e.g., other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists) and control devices (e.g. road signs, traffic signals). This project’s fundamental aim is to enhance vulnerable road user safety at intersections by collecting data through a state-of-the-art instrumented vehicle and cutting-edge eye-tracking equipment. For this purpose, each participant was instructed to drive through the pre-determined routes in downtown Toronto including various types of intersections in order to capture the effects of road design on attentional failures. To assess individual differences, each participant was asked to complete surveys (e.g., Driver Behavior Questionnaire, Cognitive Failures Questionnaire, Arnett Inventory of Sensation Seeking, NASA TLX) as well as perform computerized attention tasks examining general attention abilities in a laboratory setting.

Student PI(s): Nazli Eser Kaya