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General information
Type: Naturalistic driving study
Tested system/service:
Countries: USA ? test users
3 partners 3102 vehicles
Active from 2010 to 2012
Project website
Ken Campbell
National Academy of Sciences
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In 2005, the United States Congress created the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) to address the challenges of moving people and goods efficiently and safely on the nation’s highways. SHRP 2 is administered by the Transportation Research Board of The National Academies, under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Highway Administration (U.S. Department of Transportation) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

SHRP 2 is a targeted, short-term research program carried out through competitively awarded contracts to qualified researchers in the academic, private, and public sectors. SHRP 2 addresses four strategic focus areas: the role of human behavior in highway safety; rapid renewal of aging highway infrastructure; congestion reduction through improved travel time reliability; and transportation planning that better integrates community, economic, and environmental considerations into new highway capacity.

A naturalistic driving study investigates ordinary driving under real‐world conditions in order to make the driving experience safer. In the SHRP 2 study, about 3000 volunteer drivers will agree to have their cars fitted with cameras, radar, and other sensors to capture data as they go about their usual driving tasks.

Experience with earlier naturalistic driving studies demonstrates that drivers quickly forget the presence of cameras and sensors, which are as inconspicuous as possible. This allows researchers to study driving behavior that is as close to “natural” as possible: thus a “naturalistic driving study.” This kind of study is needed because driver behavior contributes to more than 90 % of crashes and is the primary factor in more than 60 % of crashes.

Details of Field Operational Test

Start date and duration of FOT execution

2-year project: 2010-2012

In Fall 2010, contractors began to instrument vehicles, assess drivers, and start the 2-year data collection process. Several steps were accomplished before that, such as acquiring the data collection equipment and recruiting volunteers.

Geographical Coverage

6 sites in the United States: Erie Country, New York; Seattle, Washington; Central Pennsylvania; Central Indiana; Tampa Bay, Florida; and Durham, North Carolina

Link with other related Field Operational Tests


Congress established the second strategic highway research program (SHRP 2) in 2006 to investigate the underlying causes of highway crashes and congestion in a short-term program of focused research. To carry out that investigation, SHRP 2 targets goals in four interrelated focus areas:

  • Safety: Significantly improve highway safety by understanding driving behavior in a study of unprecedented scale
  • Renewal: Develop design and construction methods that cause minimal disruption and produce long-lived facilities to renew the aging highway infrastructure
  • Reliability: Reduce congestion and improve travel time reliability through incident management, response, and mitigation
  • Capacity: Integrate mobility, economic, environmental, and community needs into the planning and design of new transportation capacity


Through targeted, short-term, results-oriented research, SHRP 2 will develop recommended procedures, practices, and applications to advance our nation’s highway system in the program’s key focus areas. With SHRP as a model, many SHRP 2 products could be adopted as standards, guides, or recommended practices at the local, state, or federal level.

Lessons learned

Ongoing project

Main events


Summary, type of funding and budget

Funding for SHRP 2 has been authorized at $232.5 million, and approximately $48 million has been appropriated for the NDS.

Cooperation partners and contact persons

The program will be managed by the Transportation Research Board on behalf of the National Research Council. It will be conducted in close cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Main Contact person

   Ken Campbell
   Chief Program Officer
   SHRP 2, Safety

Applications and equipment

Applications tested


Around 3000 vehicles.

Equipment carried by test users


Test equipment


Pre-simulation / Piloting of the FOT

Method for the baseline

Techniques for measurement and data collection

Video images of the view out the front and rear windshields, the passenger side view, the driver’s face and hands, and the cabin will be recorded. Additionally, rates of acceleration, lateral and vertical motion, the presence of alcohol within the cabin, position information, turn signal actuation and other variables such as steering wheel angle, speed, seat belt use and air bag deployment will be recorded through various sensors. Radar will be used to identify objects in the front of the cars, their range, and the rates at which the range changes. An incident push button will allow participants to report critical events and emergencies.

Separately, data will also be collected on roadway elements such as road type, geometry, shoulders, safety furniture, signage, pavement markings, and more for the roads most frequently used by the volunteer drivers. Detailed investigations of selected crashes will also be conducted.

Collected Variables (partial):

  • Multiple Videos
    • Machine Vision Eyes Forward Monitor
    • Machine Vision Lane Tracker
    • Machine Vision Driver ID
  • Accelerometer Data (3 axis)
  • Rate Sensors (3 axis)
  • GPS
    • Latitude, Longitude, Elevation, Time, Velocity
  • Forward Radar
    • X and Y positions
    • Xdot and Ydot Velocities
  • Cell Phone
    • ACN, health checks, location notification
    • Health checks, remote upgrades
  • Illuminance sensor
  • Passive alcohol sensor
  • Video
  • Incident push button
  • Turn signals
  • Vehicle network data
    • Accelerator
    • Brake pedal activation
    • ABS
    • Gear position
    • Steering wheel angle
    • Speed
    • Horn
    • Seat Belt Information
    • Airbag deployment
    • Many more variables…

Recruitment goals and methods

The drivers in the study will be men and women in various age groups, from different socioeconomic strata, and from different geographic areas across the United States, driving different types of light vehicles. Volunteer drivers will be recruited in a variety of ways, including through a national call center and local outreach efforts to attract drivers in each category.

Volunteers will be assessed for their visual perception, driving knowledge, reaction time, lower limb strength, and other factors so that these factors can be studied in relation to actual driving behavior under normal driving conditions.

Methods for the liaison with the drivers during the FOT execution

Methods for data analysis, evaluation, synthesis and conclusions

The primary objective of the study is to produce a rich cache of data on driving behavior that researchers for decades to come can use as the basis for safety improvements. Nearly 500 research questions have been gathered from safety researchers and practitioners. Research questions have been prioritized according to their potential for improving safety and additional studies are under way to develop the best methods for analyzing the data. High priority questions address road departure, driver distraction, driver impairment, intersections and collision surrogates. There will be a focus on road departure and intersection collisions because these account for more than half of highway fatalities.

In addition to these safety questions and many more that will be raised in the future, there may be still broader applications for the data, in areas such as highway operations and planning, environmental impact of vehicles, and psychological study of drivers. The SHRP 2 study is not specifically designed for these uses, but the database may well be able to support more than highway safety research.

Sources of information