Effects of Situational Characteristics on Drivers’ Merging into Freeway Traffic

  • Martin Baumann
  • Rike Steenken
  • Astrid Kassner
  • Lars Weber
  • Andreas Lüdtke
Conference paper



We explore a model-based approach for the design of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) where a computational cognitive driver model based on psychological theories of driver behaviour interacts in a simulated environment with the simulated ADAS to predict the positive and possible negative effects of the ADAS on driver behaviour early in the ADAS development process. Applying such an approach to the design of ADAS requires the availability of a valid driver model that can be used to assess the effect of system proto types on human driving behaviour in simulations.


This paper presents two empirical studies conducted within the project IMoST (Integrated Modeling for Safe Transportation) focussing on drivers' merging into highway traffic and how the performance of this manoeuvre is influenced by the speed difference between the merging vehicle and the vehicles on the highway and their distance. These studies were the basis for the development of a cognitive driver model that is able to perform the merging manoeuvre comparable to human drivers.


The empirical results of the studies show that both speed difference and the distance between the merging and the highway vehicles influence driver’s decision making processes, attention allocation and driving behaviour while performing the manoeuvre. Furthermore, the results demonstrate large inter- and intraindividual differences in merging behaviour. In a first validation study the frequencies of drivers’ decisions to merge before or after an oncoming faster highway vehicle and the trajectories of the human drivers when performing the merging manoeuvre were compared to the cognitive driver model’s decisions and trajectories. The comparisons yielded a substantial match between human and model data.


The positive results of the first validation studies of the cognitive driver model indicate the suitability of the approach as tool for ADAS development even though a lot of further research is needed on the way to a powerful and validated cognitive driver model.


Freeway merging Cognitive driver model Model-based ADAS design 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia Srl 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Baumann
    • 1
  • Rike Steenken
    • 2
  • Astrid Kassner
    • 1
  • Lars Weber
    • 3
  • Andreas Lüdtke
    • 3
  1. 1.DLRBraunschweigGermany
  2. 2.Carl von Ossietzky University OldenburgOldenburgGermany
  3. 3.OFFIS, Institute for Information TechnologyOldenburgGermany

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