The Australian 400-car Naturalistic Driving Study: Innovation in road safety research and policy
This paper describes the design of Australia’s first large-scale Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS), the aim of which is to understand what people actually do when they drive their cars in normal, impaired and safety-critical situations. In early 2014, each of 400 volunteer participants - 200 in NSW (Sydney and Wagga Wagga) and 200 in Victoria (Melbourne and Bendigo) - will have their own vehicle instrumented for 6 months with a Data Acquisition System (DAS) which will record continuously their driving behaviour (e.g. where they are looking), the behaviour of their vehicle (e.g. speed, lane position, headway), the behaviour of other road users with whom they interact (e.g. other drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians), and their interactions with the road infrastructure. Prior to participating, each driver will undergo an extensive testing regime that will enable the research team to correlate their personal data with on-road data. Drivers will a have valid Australian licence (provisional or full licence) and be aged between 17 and 70 years. Eight overarching research questions will guide the exploration of the data: (1) What collision risks are drivers exposed to?; (2) What collision risks do drivers expose themselves and others to?; (3) By how much do these exposures increase collision risk to them and to others?; (4) What are the factors that protect drivers against crash and injury?; (5) How do drivers modify their behaviour to adapt to conditions of increased and potential collision risk?; (6) How do people drive normally to minimise collision risk and avoid crashes?; (7) What are the factors that cause and contribute to crashes and safety-critical events?; and (8) What is the relationship between driver personal characteristics, driving behaviour and crash risk? The main outcomes of the study will be the formulation, based on the answers to these research questions, of new and improved evidence-based countermeasures for improving intersection safety, reducing speed-related crashes, reducing fatal and serious injury crashes involving vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists), reducing crashes involving fatigue and inattention, and improving the design and performance of collision warning and other intelligent vehicle safety technologies.