Scholarly Communications Project

Examination of Driver Lane Change Behavior and the Potential Effectiveness of Warning Onset Rules for Lane Change or "Side" Crash Avoidance Systems


Shannon Hetrick

Master's Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia Tech in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Master of Science


Industrial and Systems Engineering


Dr. Thomas A. Dingus, Chair
Dr. Louis Tijerina
Dr. Walter W. Wierwille

March 27, 1997
Blacksburg, Virginia


Lane change or "Side" Crash Avoidance Systems (SCAS) technologies are becoming available to help alleviate the lane change crash problem. They detect lane change crash hazards and warn the driver of the presence of such hazards. This thesis examines driver lane change behavior and evaluates the potential effectiveness of five warning onset rules for lane change or "side" crash avoidance system (SCAS) technologies.

The ideal SCAS should warn the driver only when two conditions are met: (1) positive indication of lane change intent and (2) positive detection of a proximal vehicle in the adjacent lane of concern. Together, these two conditions create a crash hazard. The development of SCAS technologies depends largely on an understanding of driver behavior and performance during lane change maneuvers. By quantifying lane change behavior, real world crash hazard scenarios can be simulated. This provides an opportunity to evaluate potential warning onset rules or algorithms of driver intent to change lanes.

Five warning onset rules for SCAS were evaluated: turn-signal onset (TSO), minimum separation (MS), line crossing (LC), time-to-line crossing (TLC), and tolerance limit (TL). The effectiveness of each rule was measured by the maximum response time available (tavailable) to avoid a crash for a particular lane change crash scenario, and by the crash outcome, crashed or crash avoided, of a particular lane change crash scenario.

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