Steering in a Random Forest Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to design and evaluate an algorithm for detecting drowsiness-related lane departures by applying a random forest classifier to steering wheel angle data. BACKGROUND: Although algorithms exist to detect and mitigate driver drowsiness, the high rate of false alarms and missed detection of drowsiness represent persistent challenges. Current algorithms use a variety of data sources, definitions of drowsiness, and machine learning approaches to detect drowsiness. METHOD: We develop a new approach for detecting drowsiness-related lane departures using steering wheel angle data that employ an ensemble definition of drowsiness and a random forest algorithm. Data collected from 72 participants driving the National Advanced Driving Simulator are used to train and evaluate the model. The model's performance was assessed relative to a commonly used algorithm, percentage eye closure (PERCLOS). RESULTS: The random forest steering algorithm had a higher classification accuracy and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve than PERCLOS and had comparable positive predictive value. The algorithm succeeds at identifying two key scenarios associated with the drowsiness detection task. These two scenarios consist of instances when drivers depart their lane because they fail to modulate their steering behavior according to the demands of the simulated road and instances when drivers correctly modulate their steering behavior according to the demands of the road. CONCLUSION: The random forest steering algorithm is a promising approach to detect driver drowsiness. The algorithm's ties to consequences of drowsy driving suggest that it can be easily paired with mitigation systems.

altmetric score

  • 2.7

author list (cited authors)

  • McDonald, A. D., Lee, J. D., Schwarz, C., & Brown, T. L.

citation count

  • 30

publication date

  • August 2014


  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Algorithms
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Automobile Driving
  • Decision Trees
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical
  • Sleep Stages