The ‘real behaviour’ of road users in Europe will be assessed ‘for the first time’ as part of a ‘naturalistic driving study’ involving Loughborough University.
The €10m collaborative study, funded by the European Commission, will observe the various aspects of driver and rider behaviour including acceleration, lane position, speed, eye movements, traffic densities and road conditions.
The ‘UDRIVE’ experiment involves monitoring cars, trucks and scooters for up to 21 months to collect data whenever the vehicle is in motion; in daylight, darkness and all weather conditions.
Loughborough University’s Driver Behaviour and Injury Prevention Research Group is leading on the UK data gathering, along with the Institute of Transport Studies at the University of Leeds.
30 cars will each be equipped with seven video cameras and a smart camera to provide external and internal views of the vehicle, including the driver’s face, hands, and feet.
The aim is to gain an ‘accurate and in-depth understanding of actual road user behaviour in a natural setting and analyse the relationship between driver/rider, vehicle, road and other traffic in a range of situations’.
The study will assess the risk of safety critical behaviour and eco driving and the results will be used to identify new measures which could make the European traffic system safer and more sustainable.
Ruth Welsh, a senior researcher at Loughborough University, said: “UDRIVE presents a fantastic opportunity to gain first-hand insight into drivers’ natural behaviour behind the wheel, harmonising data from other countries within the EU which have differing levels of road safety.
“By recording drivers continuously, we can analyse crash causation factors such as distraction (i.e. mobile phones) and interactions with vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.
“It is the intention that post project the data will become a reliable source of information for subsequent analyses by road safety and environmental experts from all over the world.”
Dr Nicole Van Nes, co-ordinator of the UDRIVE project, said: “This naturalistic driving study offers the unique opportunity to study behaviours that we couldn’t study through other methods.
“In this study, we have effectively been able to look over the shoulder of the driver so that we can see the chain of events leading up to possible crashes. It also provides valuable insight into key safety topics such as fatigue and distraction, as well as dangerous driving behaviours.”
Click here to find out more about the study which will run until June 2017.