Report numberRA-MOW-2008-003
TitleRelation between driving parameters and traffic safety
SubtitleIdentification of the parameters for safe vs. unsafe driving behavior
AuthorsBart Beusen
Tobias Denys
Published byPolicy Research Centre for Mobility and Public Works, track Traffic Safety 2007-2011
Number of pages60
Document languageDutch
Partner(s)Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek
Work packageOther: Extra research with respect to concrete policy questions

This report is part of the project "Vehicle technology, driving behavior and traffic safety" of work-package 4 "Innovation and ICT for a safer mobility". The aim of this project is to gain a better understanding of the relationship between vehicle technology, driving behavior and traffic safety. In a first phase of the project, a literature study was performed to identify the correct parameters which enable us to measure driving behavior as completely as possible, and to judge the driving behavior in relation to traffic safety.


This study therefore looks at driving behavior and traffic safety in a broad perspective. Besides the factors which affect traffic safety like speed, environmental circumstances, drugs and alcohol, this study also takes into account the driver's perception of his own driving behavior, and also studies which have been using in-vehicle data recorders to measure driving behavior in an objective way, are discussed.


From these diverse sources of information, the parameters that are able to classify safe versus unsafe driving behavior, are extracted. These include on the one hand the way in which the driver operates his vehicle: speed, chosen gear/revolutions per minute (rpm)/gear shifting behavior, braking behavior and following distance. These parameters should always be viewed in relation to environmental factors: speed limit, design speed of the road, weather conditions, amount of curve in the road, traffic intensity, type of road, number of side-roads, etc. Together they constitute driving behavior. On the other hand, there are those factors which affect the condition of the driver (physical and psychological, e.g. drugs, alcohol, use of cell phone while driving). The consequences hereof are revealed by a change in the observed driving behavior, which might be inappropriate for the given circumstances, and which might lead to a negative impact on traffic safety: retardation in braking, harder braking actions, speeding, zigzag over the road, etc. Additional aspects concerning the driver (sex, age, etc.) or the vehicle (type, power, equipped with ABS yes or no, etc.) might also contribute to the explanation of the observed driving behavior.


In a second phase of the project, a pilot test will be started which will monitor the parameters mentioned above on several vehicles in real traffic conditions. A specific question to be investigated will be to what effect risk compensation will occur when ITS related safety systems are installed in the vehicle. The introduction of ITS systems in the vehicle can have both wanted and unwanted results on driver behavior. There's a real danger that the expected positive effect will be countered partly or completely by the adaptation of the driver's behavior.

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The Policy Research Centre for Traffic Safety carries out policy relevant scientific research under the authority of the Flemish Government. The Centre is the result of a

cooperation between Hasselt University, KU Leuven and VITO, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research.


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