A Driving Simulation Study to Examine the Impact of Available Sight Distance on Driver Behavior along Rural Highways

The available sight distance (ASD) is the maximum length of the roadway ahead visible to the driver. It is a fundamental factor in road geometry principles and is used by road designers to ensure safe driving conditions. However, designers do not know how a specific ASD may affect the longitudinal and transversal behavior of drivers engaged in negotiating curves. This paper focuses on analyzing driver longitudinal behavior along rural highways curves with limited visibility. A number of virtual sight condition scenarios were recreated and tested in the driving simulator. Three tracks were designed with various combinations of radii and sight obstructions (a continuous wall) along the roadside located at various offsets from the lane centerline, combinations which resulted with a minimum ASD of 56.6 m. Roadside factors capable of influencing the risk perception of drivers (e.g., traffic barriers, posted speed limit signs, vegetation) were all excluded from the simulations. Results indicate that speed and trajectory dispersion from the lane centerline depend linearly on ASD in the investigated range of curve radii (from 120 to 430 m). In general, when ASD increases, so does speed and the trajectories tend to be less dispersed around the lane centerline. As a result, in safety terms, any variation in ASD will have the polar opposite effect on safety related parameters. Furthermore, different curves with similar ASD values resulted in different speed and lateral control behaviors. Analysis from ANOVA support the same findings; in addition, radius, curve direction, and distance from trajectory to sight obstruction have been identified as significant independent parameters. Road designers should adjust the ASD and these parameters when seeking to encourage drivers to adopt appropriate behaviors. To optimize safe driving conditions, ASD should be designed so that it is slightly greater than the required sight distance, since excessive ASD values may encourage drivers to drive at inappropriate speeds.


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  • Accession Number: 01714007
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 16 2019 3:05PM