Analysis of the role of inattention in road crashes based on naturalistic on-board safety monitoring data
Paper in proceedings, 2013
The general objective of the present analysis was to investigate the role of driver inattention in rear-end crashes and crossing path intersection crashes. To this end, a set of 133 naturalistic crashes (70 rear-end and 63 intersection crashes), obtained by means of the DriveCam on-board safety monitoring (OBSM) system, were analyzed based on a novel methodology for assigning and aggregating crash-contributing factors. The analysis focused on rear-end crashes where the OBSM-instrumented vehicle was striking a lead vehicle and crossing-path intersection crashes where the driver of the instrumented vehicle intended to proceed straight through the intersection. It was found that driver inattention, in particular driver distraction involving a diversion of gaze from the forward roadway, was the dominating factor contributing to the rear-end crashes.
Although driver inattention also contributed to the intersection crashes, the patterns of contributing factors for this crash type were quite different compared to the rear-end crashes. In particular, in the intersection crashes, visual occlusion and insufficient selection of safety margins were identified as key contributing factors. Cognitively distracting activities that did not involve a diversion of gaze from the forward roadway, such as cell phone conversation, did not contribute frequently to avoidance failures for any of the crash types. The present results show that the role of driver inattention as a
crash-contributing factor depends strongly on the type of crash. They also support previous findings from naturalistic driving studies that visual diversion from the
forward roadway is the key mechanism by which inattention leads to rear-end crashes.