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Naturalistic Driving

A New Method of Data Collection

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Part of the Advances in Intelligent and Soft Computing book series (AINSC,volume 81)


In a typical naturalistic driving study, the subjects’ own cars are equipped with devices that, over a longer period of time, continuously monitor various aspects of their driving behavior in an unobtrusive way and without the presence of a test supervisor. This includes aspects of vehicle movement, driver behavior, and the direct environment. Naturalistic observations of pedestrians and cyclists can be carried out using site-based fixed cameras.

Naturalistic observations provide information that is difficult or even impossible to obtain through current research methods. For example, analyses of crash statistics or in-depth crash investigations cannot provide much information about behavioral issues preceding a crash or about near misses. Observations by means of instrumented vehicles or simulators do not encourage the test subjects to behave in a normal (naturalistic) way, since they are generally well aware of the experimental conditions.

Experiences in the US have indicated that the naturalistic approach may give a reliable picture of the driver’s normal behavior and makes it possible to observe and analyze the interrelationship between the driver, vehicle, road and other road users under normal conditions, in conflict situations and in actual collisions.

The PROLOGUE project aims to assess the feasibility and usefulness of a large-scale European naturalistic driving study and to establish a scientific and organizational basis for this new type of research.

The work in PROLOGUE comprises a number of small-scale pilot studies in different research areas, including novice drivers, in-vehicle information systems, and vulnerable road users, through site-based observations. The pilots are pre-ceded by an inventory of the technical, methodological and organizational issues. The work has identified potential areas of application and research questions for which the naturalistic approach would have an added value. Ongoing naturalistic studies have been reviewed and summarized. A survey has been carried out to support the preparation of a catalogue of applications and research topics for future naturalistic driving studies.


  • Road Safety
  • Road User
  • Driving Behavior
  • Naturalistic Observation
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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Winkelbauer, M., Eichhorn, A., Sagberg, F., Backer-Grøndahl, A. (2010). Naturalistic Driving. In: Düh, J., Hufnagl, H., Juritsch, E., Pfliegl, R., Schimany, HK., Schönegger, H. (eds) Data and Mobility. Advances in Intelligent and Soft Computing, vol 81. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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