Driver behavior study is focus of July 14-15 symposium

July 08, 2011

WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Research Board (TRB) will host a symposium next week to discuss its Naturalistic Driving Study -- the world's largest field study of driving behavior in which monitoring equipment will observe how drivers interact with traffic conditions and roadway design. The data captured will support the development of safety improvements in road design, cars, and driver training programs. When the data are analyzed, crashes at intersections and accidents where the driver runs off the road will be initial focus areas.

"Driver behavior is the primary cause of most crashes," said Ken Campbell, chief program officer, Strategic Highway Research Program 2. "This study will tell us what a driver does behind the wheel during a crash and in a near-crash experience. With that information, we can identify countermeasures that will improve highway safety for decades to come."

Over the course of the two-year study, the vehicles of 3,000 drivers will be fitted with a special Data Acquisition System (DAS), which will continuously record driver behavior and vehicle kinematics. The equipment includes four video cameras, accelerometers, GPS, radar to identify objects in front of the car, and other sensors. Environmental variables such as traffic, lighting, and weather conditions will also be collected.
TRB is recruiting approximately 500 drivers to participate from each of six sites in the United States: Buffalo, N.Y.; Seattle; Tampa Bay, Fla; Durham, N.C.; central Pennsylvania; and Bloomington, Ind. Drivers are paid $500 per year for their participation.

This study is sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration. For more information about the study, visit


The Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) Transportation Safety Research Symposium will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 14, and 8:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, July 15, in Room 100 of the National Academies' Keck Center, 500 Fifth St., N.W., Washington, D.C. Space is limited; reporters must register in advance with Maureen O'Leary at 202-334-3875 or


A car equipped with a DAS unit will be on view at the symposium from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on July 14. Ken Campbell, chief program officer, SHRP 2, will be available for interviews.


1) Photo of device that holds the encrypted data. Courtesy of Westat.

2) Photo of head unit behind the rearview mirror. Courtesy of Westat.

3) Composite of video recorded by the DAS. Courtesty of Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

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