Introduction The rear-end crash is one of the most common freeway crash types, and driver distraction is often cited as a leading cause of rear-end crashes. Previous research indicates that driver distraction could have negative effects on driving performance, but the specific association between driver distraction and crash risk is still not fully revealed. This study sought to understand the mechanism by which driver distraction, defined as secondary task distraction, could influence crash risk, as indicated by a driver's reaction time, in freeway car-following situations. Method A statistical analysis, exploring the causal model structure regarding drivers’ distraction impacts on reaction times, was conducted. Distraction duration, distraction scenario, and secondary task type were chosen as distraction-related factors. Besides, exogenous factors including weather, visual obstruction, lighting condition, traffic density, and intersection presence and endogenous factors including driver age and gender were considered. Results There was an association between driver distraction and reaction time in the sample freeway rear-end events from SHRP 2 NDS database. Distraction duration, the distracted status when a leader braked, and secondary task type were related to reaction time, while all other factors showed no significant effect on reaction time. Conclusions The analysis showed that driver distraction duration is the primary direct cause of the increase in reaction time, with other factors having indirect effects mediated by distraction duration. Longer distraction duration, the distracted status when a leader braked, and engaging in auditory-visual-manual secondary task tended to result in longer reaction times. Practical applications Given drivers will be distracted occasionally, countermeasures which shorten distraction duration or avoid distraction presence while a leader vehicle brakes are worth considering. This study helps better understand the mechanism of freeway rear-end events in car-following situations, and provides a methodology that can be adopted to study the association between driver behavior and driving features.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research was sponsored by SHRP 2 Safety Data Program, Transportation Research Board (TRB) Oversight Committee for Use and Oversight of SHRP 2 Safety Data, Phase 1, and received great support on data acquisition from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The findings and conclusions of this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the VTTI, SHRP 2, the Transportation Research Board, or the National Academy of Sciences. Appendix A
© 2017 National Safety Council and Elsevier Ltd
- Driver distraction
- Naturalistic Driving Study
- Reaction time
- Rear-end event