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Title: Temporal fluctuations in driving demand: The effect of traffic complexity on subjective measures of workload and driving performance

Organisation: University of Leeds (Institute for Transport Studies)
Date uploaded: 27th January 2016
Date published/launched: January 2014

Traffic density has been shown to be a factor of traffic complexity which influences driver workload. However, little research has systematically varied and examined how traffic density affects workload in dynamic traffic conditions.

In this driving simulator study the effects of two dynamically changing traffic complexity factors (Traffic Flow and Lane Change Presence) on workload were examined. These fluctuations in driving demand were then captured using a continuous subjective rating method and driving performance measures.

The results indicate a linear upward trend in driver workload with increasing traffic flow, up to moderate traffic flow levels. The analysis also showed that driver workload increased when a lane change occurred in the driversí forward field of view, with further increases in workload when that lane change occurred in close proximity.

Both of these main effects were captured via subjective assessment and with driving performance parameters such as speed variation, mean time headway and variation in lateral position.

Understanding how these traffic behaviours dynamically influence driver workload is beneficial in estimating and managing driver workload. The study suggests possible ways of defining the level of workload associated with surrounding traffic complexity, which could help contribute to the design of an adaptive workload estimator.

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