Creating pedestrian crash scenarios in a driving simulator environment. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: In 2012 in the United States, pedestrian injuries accounted for 3.3% of all traffic injuries but, disproportionately, pedestrian fatalities accounted for roughly 14% of traffic-related deaths (NHTSA 2014 ). In many other countries, pedestrians make up more than 50% of those injured and killed in crashes. This research project examined driver response to crash-imminent situations involving pedestrians in a high-fidelity, full-motion driving simulator. This article presents a scenario development method and discusses experimental design and control issues in conducting pedestrian crash research in a simulation environment. Driving simulators offer a safe environment in which to test driver response and offer the advantage of having virtual pedestrian models that move realistically, unlike test track studies, which by nature must use pedestrian dummies on some moving track. METHODS: An analysis of pedestrian crash trajectories, speeds, roadside features, and pedestrian behavior was used to create 18 unique crash scenarios representative of the most frequent and most costly crash types. For the study reported here, we only considered scenarios where the car is traveling straight because these represent the majority of fatalities. We manipulated driver expectation of a pedestrian both by presenting intersection and mid-block crossing as well as by using features in the scene to direct the driver's visual attention toward or away from the crossing pedestrian. Three visual environments for the scenarios were used to provide a variety of roadside environments and speed: a 20-30 mph residential area, a 55 mph rural undivided highway, and a 40 mph urban area. RESULTS: Many variables of crash situations were considered in selecting and developing the scenarios, including vehicle and pedestrian movements; roadway and roadside features; environmental conditions; and characteristics of the pedestrian, driver, and vehicle. The driving simulator scenarios were subjected to iterative testing to adjust time to arrival triggers for the pedestrian actions. This article discusses the rationale behind creating the simulator scenarios and some of the procedural considerations for conducting this type of research. CONCLUSIONS: Crash analyses can be used to construct test scenarios for driver behavior evaluations using driving simulators. By considering trajectories, roadway, and environmental conditions of real-world crashes, representative virtual scenarios can serve as safe test beds for advanced driver assistance systems. The results of such research can be used to inform pedestrian crash avoidance/mitigation systems by identifying driver error, driver response time, and driver response choice (i.e., steering vs. braking).

published proceedings

  • Traffic Inj Prev

altmetric score

  • 5

author list (cited authors)

  • Chrysler, S. T., Ahmad, O., & Schwarz, C. W.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Chrysler, Susan T||Ahmad, Omar||Schwarz, Chris W

publication date

  • June 2015