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Making Driving Simulators More Useful for Behavioral Research

Project #: 4W2629
Start Date: 03/01/2009
End Date: 09/30/2012

Driving simulators have great potential to enhance road safety, because they provide an opportunity to study driver behavior in response to new or revised roadway design features, prior to construction. However, this potential depends on the ability of behavioral data observed in a driving simulator to predict the true behavior that would be committed in the real world. The objective of this research is to fill this important gap by (1) developing transformations of simulator data so that it matches observed on-road behavior, and (2) identifying the level of simulation fidelity needed to address particular design issues. This is a large scale, three phase research program led by the National Advanced Driving Simulator program at the University of Iowa, on behalf of the FHWA Exploratory Advanced Research Program. Phase 1 starts with input from roadway designers and defines simulator characteristics that may be needed to address these issues. Phase 2 collects data to compare driver performance in a range of simulators to on-road performance. Phase 3 develops model-based transformations for relating simulator data to on-road data. WTI is part of the research team, with task responsibilities that include providing simulator resources and developing validation methodology.


The overall goal of this project is to refine driving simulator research methods so that findings correspond more closely to on road behavior, in order to make driving simulators useful for roadway design.


  • Nic Ward
    Nic Ward


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