Pedestrians safety perception and crossing behaviors in narrow urban streets: An experimental study using immersive virtual reality technology

Virtual reality (VR) technology emerges as a promising tool for investigating human perception and behavior in highly controlled, immersive, and risk-free environments. This study proposed to apply simulated VR technology to investigate the interactions between perceived crash risk and behavior patterns in a road crossing with changes in the safety-related environmental attributes. In the context of the 8-meter-wide segment in a residential block, 35 VR environments with variations of six environmental attributes were generated. Two hundred participants were recruited for the experiment. The measured behavioral outcomes were 1) waiting and reaction time in the decision phase before crossing and 2) crossing speed and gait variability in the crossing phase. Random effect regression and multi-level structural equation models were constructed to test the study hypotheses. The results demonstrated that environmental attributes, including barriers to visibility (coefficient = 0.446), geometric patterns (coefficient = −0.625), and pavement signs (coefficient = −0.502), were associated with the pedestrians’ perceived risk, but the influence varied by street types. In addition, changes in the perceived threats to pedestrians were found to mediate the environment-crossing behavior relationship (coefficient of the indirect effect = 0.679). Those who perceive higher crash risk took longer to decide to start walking at a crosswalk and tended to walk in haste while crossing the road. Using VR technology, the present study addressed an inter-relationship between environmental characteristics, cognition, and crossing behavior, contributing to better knowledge on road safety interventions to reduce the risk of pedestrian-involved crashes.


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  • Accession Number: 01851589
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 18 2022 9:28AM