Car-following models, which are used to predict the acceleration-deceleration decisions of drivers in the presence of a closely spaced lead vehicle, are critical components of traffic microsimulation tools and useful for safety evaluation. Existing car-following models primarily account for the effects of surrounding traffic conditions on a driver’s decision to accelerate or decelerate. However, research in human factors and safety has demonstrated that driving decisions are also significantly affected by individuals’ characteristics and their emotional states like stress, fatigue, etc. This motivates us to develop a car-following model where we explicitly account for the stress level of the driver and quantify its impact on acceleration-deceleration decisions. An extension of the GM stimulus-response model framework is proposed in this regard, where stress is treated as a latent (unobserved) variable, while the specification also accounts for the effects of drivers’ sociodemographic characteristics. The proposed hybrid models are calibrated using data collected with the University of Leeds Driving Simulator where participants are deliberately subjected to stress in the form of aggressive surrounding vehicles, slow leaders and/or time pressure while driving in a motorway setting. Alongside commonly used variables, physiological measures of stress (i.e. heart rate, blood volume pulse, skin conductance) are collected with a non-intrusive wristband. These measurements are used as indicators of the latent stress level in a hybrid model framework and the model parameters are estimated using Maximum Likelihood Technique. Estimation results indicate that car-following behaviour is significantly influenced by stress alongside speed, headway and drivers’ characteristics. The findings can be used to improve the fidelity of simulation tools and designing interventions to improve safety.
Paschalidis, E., Choudhury, C.F. & Hess, S. (2019), Combining driving simulator and physiological sensor data in a latent variable model to incorporate the effect of stress in car-following behaviour. Analytic Methods in Accident Research, 22, 100089.