Modelling how drivers respond to a bicyclist crossing their path at an intersection: How do test track and driving simulator compare?
Journal article, 2018
Bicyclist fatalities are a great concern in the European Union. Most of them are due to crashes between motorized vehicles and bicyclists at unsignalised intersections. Different countermeasures are currently being developed and implemented in order to save lives. One type of countermeasure, active safety systems, requires a deep understanding of driver behaviour to be effective without being annoying. The current study provides new knowledge about driver behaviour which can inform assessment programmes for active safety systems such as Euro NCAP. This study investigated how drivers responded to bicyclists crossing their path at an intersection. The influences of car speed and cyclist speed on the driver response process were assessed for three different crossing configurations. The same experimental protocol was tested in a fixed-base driving simulator and on a test track. A virtual model of the test track was used in the driving simulator to keep the protocol as consistent as possible across testing environments. Results show that neither car speed nor bicycle speed directly influenced the response process. The crossing configuration did not directly influence the braking response process either, but it did influence the strategy chosen by the drivers to approach the intersection. The point in time when the bicycle became visible (which depended on the car speed, the bicycle speed, and the crossing configuration) and the crossing configuration alone had the largest effects on the driver response process. Dissimilarities between test-track and driving-simulator studies were found; however, there were also interesting similarities, especially in relation to the driver braking behaviour. Drivers followed the same strategy to initiate braking, independent of the test environment. On the other hand, the test environment affected participants' strategies for releasing the gas pedal and regulating deceleration. Finally, a mathematical model, based on both experiments, is proposed to characterize driver braking behaviour in response to bicyclists crossing at intersections. This model has direct implications on what variables an in-vehicle safety system should consider and how tests in evaluation programs should be designed.
Driver behavior model