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General information
Type: Naturalistic driving study
Tested system/service: Methodology
Countries: The Netherlands, Greece, Austria, UK, Israel, Norway, Spain ? test users
9 partners ? vehicles
Active from 08/2009 to 2011
Rob Eenink
SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research
The Netherlands
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The project Promoting real Life Observations for Gaining Understanding of road user behaviour in Europe – for short PROLOGUE contributes to reducing the number of road casualties in Europe by further developing and testing the naturalistic observation methodology.

Based on the literature, experiences elsewhere and a series of small-scale field trials, PROLOGUE resulted in recommendations and an outline for a large-scale naturalistic study in Europe, dealing with research questions, methodology and technology for data collection, data storage, data reduction, data mining and data analysis.


The Prologue project is co-funded by European Commission, DG Research, in the 7th Framework Programme.

Details of Field Operational Test

Start date and duration of FOT execution

Geographical Coverage

Link with other related Field Operational Tests


The PROLOGUE project aimed to assess the feasibility and usefulness of a large-scale Naturalistic Driving (ND) study in Europe and to formulate recommendations for such a large-scale study. The project’s main interest was road safety and its stakeholders, not only researchers, but also automotive industry, insurance companies, police, road user umbrella organisations, driver training and certification organisations, road authorities, and national and regional governments. The project also had an interest in the added value of the naturalistic observation approach for transport-related environmental issues, e.g. eco-driving, and traffic management issues, e.g. highway capacity.

PROLOGUE´s detailed objectives were to:

  • define road safety research questions benefiting from a naturalistic observation
  • assess its added value compared with other research methods
  • identify other areas of application and corresponding stakeholders of a naturalistic observation approach
  • describe the current technical possibilities for data collection and data analysis in relation to the theoretical requirements for the identified application areas
  • define the methodological and organisational requirements in the identified application areas
  • show the current technical, methodological and organisational possibilities in a number of small scale trials
  • show the usefulness and value of naturalistic observation results for a number of identified application areas in a number of small scale field trials
  • create interest and commitment of identified stakeholders for the application of naturalistic observation studies
  • define the principles and requirements for a large-scale European naturalistic driving study, combining the areas of interest of the identified stakeholders


The nine partners of the PROLOGUE consortium conducted various activities to reach the project’s objectives, including literature reviews and analyses, questionnaires, as well as five small-scale practical field trials. Since getting the support and involvement of potential stakeholders was an important goal of the project, a wide variety of dissemination activities took place, including two international and six regional workshops.

All activities and their results have been reported in Deliverabes and are downloadable online [1]. Deliverable 4.2, the final report of the project, provides a concise overview of the PROLOGUE activities and their outcomes.

Overall, it was concluded that a large-scale European study would be feasible and have significant added value in terms of the following characteristics:

  • Overall better understanding of how and why crashes happen;
  • A large database for analysing crashes and crash-related behaviour;
  • Cross-country comparisons;
  • Investigation of environmentally friendly driving, in addition to road safety;
  • Investigation of vulnerable road users in addition to car drivers.

An important outcome was a set of concrete recommendations for a large-scale European ND study, dealing with research questions, potential users, methodology and equipment. These recommendations were based on the work in PROLOGUE, including consideration of the large-scale ND studies in the U.S. and the various Field Operational Tests (FOTs). The most important general recommendations for a large-scale ND study were summarized in eleven items, PROLOGUE's 11:

  1. The European ND study should include pedestrians and (powered) two-wheelers (VRUs), and trucks, in addition to cars thus distinguishing it from the U.S. studies.
  2. An integrated data acquisition system is recommended because use of different technologies and vendors within the same project creates validation and data compatibility issues that lengthen the study and make it more expensive.
  3. Difficulties associated with recruiting drivers, as experienced in the SHRP2 project, should be taken into consideration when planning the large-scale study, and should be addressed in the design and the timetable of the study.
  4. In part of the study site-based and in-vehicle observations should be combined.
  5. Some specific research questions should be stated, and the design should be geared to answering them. An example of a design adaptation to specific research questions is over-sampling of certain groups, like young drivers, old drivers, or new vehicles.
  6. Automatic recording of behaviour should be supplemented by driver interviews e.g. to investigate look-but-did-not-see incidents with powered two-wheelers. The ND database should also be enriched by adding other driver background data like sensation seeking, Driver Behaviour Questionnaire, and past violations and crashes.
  7. Emissions and on-line fuel consumption should be recorded for analysing eco-driving and environmental effects.
  8. Route and lane preferences and their relationship to background variables should be observed in order to provide relevant data for traffic management purposes.
  9. Inputs and/or insights from different stakeholders should be used to identify specific research questions.
  10. Cultural differences in driving patterns should be investigated; this requires data about type, number and locations for different observation sites.
  11. Some aspects of the data collection measures should be harmonized with those of SHRP2 and other large-scale naturalistic driving databases for the purpose of comparing European data with data from the U.S. and elsewhere and also for combining databases to get larger samples for analysing crash risk.

Next step

The summer 2011 call of the European Commission did indeed contain a call for a proposal for an Integrated Project about “large-scale naturalistic driving observations for safe and sustainable transport” (SST.2012.4.1-3; Level 2 - CP-IP - Call: FP7-SST-2012-RTD-1).[2]

Lessons learned

Main events


Summary, type of funding and budget

Cooperation partners and contact persons

  1. SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research (project co-ordinator) NL
  2. CERTH/HIT Hellenic Institute of Transport GR
  3. KfV Kuratorium für Verkehrssicherheit A
  4. Loughborough University UK
  5. Or Yarok ISR
  6. Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek - TNO NL
  7. TØI Institute of Transport Economics NO
  8. Test and Training International Planning and Service GmbH A
  9. Universitat de València ES

Applications and equipment

Applications tested


Equipment carried by test users


Test equipment


Pre-simulation / Piloting of the FOT

Method for the baseline

Techniques for measurement and data collection

Recruitment goals and methods

Methods for the liaison with the drivers during the FOT execution

Methods for data analysis, evaluation, synthesis and conclusions

Sources of information