Driving simulators for robust comparisons: a case study evaluating road safety engineering treatments

Accid Anal Prev. 2010 May;42(3):961-71. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2009.04.014.


Road authorities considering the implementation of speed management interventions should have access to the results of scientifically robust evaluations on which to base their decisions. However, studies that evaluate a diverse range of interventions with comparable metrics are rare, with most focussing on one type, for example, types of signage, perceptual countermeasures or physical traffic calming. This paper describes a driving simulator study designed to overcome these constraints. Twenty diverse speed-reducing treatments were developed and tested in urban and rural road environments. Forty participants encountered all the treatments allowing a comparison to be made with their driving behaviour when the treatment was not present. A number of speed parameters were developed to encapsulate the range of effects of the treatments. The results suggest that whilst straight sections of road are difficult to treat, speed reductions can be obtained by increasing risk perception. In contrast, alerting treatments had more effect at junctions, particularly in an urban environment; drivers approaching curves demonstrated improved speed adaptation if the curve radius was highlighted (either implicitly or explicitly). The study highlights how driving simulators can be used to overcome methodological constraints encountered in real-world evaluations of this type.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration*
  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Automobiles*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Ergonomics
  • Humans
  • Safety Management*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Young Adult