DRI and Westat partner for NHTSA human factors research project

DRI partnered with Westat of Rockville, MD to undertake the NHTSA “Human factors considerations for vehicle fail-safe strategies” project, a 20-month study.

Vehicle system failures could result in a significant risk for traffic safety. If a driver experiences a sudden failure while driving in traffic, there is a need for the driver to respond quickly and, depending on the circumstances and the nature of the failure, potentially get the vehicle to a safe stopping position.

One of NHTSA’s primary objectives of this study is to understand the driver’s response to a sudden failure. While focus groups and questionnaires will provide some insight into the driver response to a given failure, this study proposes to include an evaluation of drivers using the DRI fixed base simulator. The simulator will deploy scenarios simulating one or more of these vehicle system failures with driver subjects in a repeatable, controlled environment to safely perform what would otherwise be a significantly dangerous driving scenario.

As a partner to Westat in this project award, we off human factors and driving simulator expertise and know-how, as well as a large database of simulator scenarios, roadways, and potential subject drivers. Our facilities and equipment along with its OEM relationships and NHTSA project experience, are an excellent complement to Westat’s capabilities.

DRI has done extensive testing, research, and vehicle R&D-related studies of driver behavior for more than 25 years. These studies have included driver behavior and driver/vehicle interaction studies in distracted driving, impaired driving, driving with vehicle automation (ADS) and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), driving in-vehicle system failure situations, and under typical driving circumstances. This has been accompanied by and built upon a long history of driver-vehicle interaction research by our senior human factors staff members.