Driver Behavior in Car Following - The Implications for Forward Collision Avoidance

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Virginia Tech

Forward Collision Avoidance Systems (FCAS) are a type of active safety system which have great potential for rear-end collision avoidance. These systems use either radar, lidar, or cameras to track objects in front of the vehicle. In the event of an imminent collision, the system will warn the driver, and, in some cases, can autonomously brake to avoid a crash. However, driver acceptance of the systems is paramount to the effectiveness of a FCAS system. Ideally, FCAS should only deliver an alert or intervene at the last possible moment to avoid nuisance alarms, and potentially have drivers disable the system. A better understanding of normal driving behavior can help designers predict when drivers would normally take avoidance action in different situations, and customize the timing of FCAS interventions accordingly. The overall research object of this dissertation was to characterize normal driver behavior in car following events based on naturalistic driving data.

The dissertation analyzed normal driver behavior in car-following during both braking and lane change maneuvers. This study was based on the analysis of data collected in the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study which involved over 100 drivers operating instrumented vehicles in over 43,000 trips and 1.1 million miles of driving. Time to Collision in both braking and lane change were quantified as a function of vehicle speed and driver characteristics. In general, drivers were found to brake and change lanes more cautiously with increasing vehicle speed. Driver age and gender were found to have significant influence on both time to collision and maximum deceleration during braking. Drivers age 31-50 had a mean braking deceleration approximately 0.03 g greater than that of novice drivers (age 18-20), and female drivers had a marginal increase in mean braking deceleration as compared to male drivers. Lane change maneuvers were less frequent than braking maneuvers. Driver-specific models of TTC at braking and lane change were found to be well characterized by the Generalized Extreme Value distribution. Lastly, driver's intent to change lanes can be predicted using a bivariate normal distribution, characterizing the vehicle's distance to lane boundary and the lateral velocity of the vehicle.

This dissertation presents the first large scale study of its kind, based on naturalistic driving data to report driver behavior during various car-following events. The overall goal of this dissertation is to provide a better understanding of driver behavior in normal driving conditions, which can benefit automakers who seek to improve FCAS effectiveness, as well as regulatory agencies seeking to improve FCAS vehicle tests.

driver behavior, car following, naturalistic driving data, forward collision avoidance system, active safety, autonomous vehicle