Investigators

Eleni Christofa
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Civil Engineering
Michael A. Knodler, Jr., Ph.D
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Civil Engineering
Siby Samuel
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Industrial Engineering

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Project

Perception of Time Influences on Driver Speed Selection

In the United States, traffic crashes claim the lives of 30,000 people every year and is the leading cause of death for 5-24 year olds. Speed selection is a crucial task for human drivers and is one of the most important factors in traffic safety. As speed increases, the risk of a crash increases greatly in both rural and urban areas. Speed selection has been thoroughly investigated as it relates to roadway design, but there remains a gap in understanding as to how a driver's "perception of time" impacts their speed selection. In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a nationwide survey of 6,144 households to ask people the reasons why they sped. "I'm Late" was most common response with 35% of responses and "In a hurry" was further down the list with 7% of responses. This project proposes to utilize a driving simulator study along with a small naturalistic driving study in order to validate the findings from this survey by investigating how a driver's "perception of time" impacts their speed selection. Initially, a small group of participants will be equipped with Ubipix, a smartphone app that captures speed and position every second and combines that with video captured from the smartphone. The participants will record their daily commute for two weeks using the app. These data will be supplemented by a journal that participants will use each day to log their desired arrival time to/from work. The journal will provide insight as to the driver's perception of time. This form of data collection will also allow us to investigate how extra delay from traffic signals, or slow drivers, impacts a driver's speed selection. The second component to this project is a driving simulator study. Various scenarios will be designed to manipulate driver's perception of time. Driver's hypothesize that if the NHTSA survey is to be believed, then drivers who are "running late" will select speeds higher than drivers who are "In a hurry" or the control scenario. Other metrics which will be used to evaluate the participants' desire to minimize travel time include: the number of passing maneuvers, willingness to run a yellow light, and willingness to stop for a pedestrian at a crosswalk. The improved understanding of how "perception of time" impacts driver performance could immediately contribute to driver education programs. In the future, such knowledge could translate to in-vehicle warning systems which could personally tailor excessive speed warnings based on knowledge of the specific driver's schedule.