Impact at a Glance

  • VTTI pioneered the use of naturalistic driving studies, a research method that involves equipping volunteer participants’ vehicles with unobtrusive cameras and instrumentation to record real-world driver behavior and performance. The resulting data have helped VTTI researchers, federal and state agencies, auto manufacturers, and suppliers answer important questions about such driver risks as distraction, fatigue, inattention, and impairment. The institute houses nearly 90% of continuous naturalistic driving data in the world and recently won a National Academy of Sciences-funded contract to make data from the largest naturalistic driving study ever conducted (SHRP 2 NDS) available to researchers across the auto and transportation industries.
  • More than a decade ago, VTTI led the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, which was the first large-scale naturalistic driving study ever conducted. Results from the 100-Car Study continue to be analyzed and inform transportation research and policies.
  • VTTI naturalistic driving studies have shown that looking away from the forward roadway just prior to the occurrence of an unexpected event is responsible for up to 90% of crash and near-crash events.
  • The national success of VTTI has generated research efforts on a global scale; VTTI is currently leading naturalistic driving studies in China, Canada, and Australia.
  • VTTI and partners are working with a team of in-house data reductionists to analyze data from the Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study (SHRP 2 NDS). The SHRP 2 NDS is the largest study of its kind and marks the largest contract awarded by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The study data comprise more than 2 petabytes of continuous naturalistic driving data collected from more than 3,300 instrumented vehicles and more than 3,500 participants across six locations.
  • The VTTI Driver Distraction in Commercial Vehicle Operations study found that texting while driving raises a heavy-truck driver’s risk of a safety-critical event by 23 times. This statistic has been touted nationally, from the New York Times to the Ad Council to AT&T.
  • The "23 times" message helped lead the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) to issue a call to end distracted driving. Currently, 41 states and the District of Columbia have banned text messaging for all drivers.
  • VTTI teen driving studies have shown that teens are four times more likely to be involved in a crash or near-crash while distracted compared to their adult counterparts. Teen fatalities are three times greater than adult fatalities, making this an important discovery of the prominence of a major causal factor for younger drivers.
  • VTTI light-vehicle naturalistic driving studies have shown that driver drowsiness is a significantly greater factor in crashes and near-crashes than was previously thought. As with heavy trucks, light-vehicle crashes and near-crashes involve drowsiness about 15% to 20% of the time; previous estimates were between 4% and 8%.
  • The VTTI-developed data acquisition system provided the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with the information required to evaluate its hours-of-service regulations (e.g., off-duty time, on-duty time, breaks, re-start provisions). Based on this information, the FMCSA adjusted its hours-of-service safety requirements by reducing the maximum number of hours (i.e., from 82 to 70 hours) a truck driver can work within a week.
  • FMCSA recently awarded VTTI researchers a $30 million master IDIQ contract to study heavy-truck driver performance during a five-year period.
  • VTTI researchers are leading a congressionally mandated FMCSA study to assess the impact of restart breaks on commercial truck driver safety and fatigue.
  • VTTI is currently developing a teen driving program that provides monitoring and feedback via the VTTI data acquisition system. As a result of this work, institute researchers have been featured on the Discovery Channel, 20/20, and 60 Minutes—Australia.
  • An Onboard Monitoring System Field Operational Test is currently being conducted that will result in the largest truck and motorcoach naturalistic data set to date.
  • VTTI researchers recently completed the first large-scale, naturalistic motorcycle study for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation; data analysis is ongoing.
  • In June 2015, the Virginia Automated Corridors (VAC) was unveiled as a partnership between VTTI, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Transurban, and HERE. In response to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s proclamation that Virginia is “open for business” in the realm of automation, the VAC will provide an automation-friendly environment that government agencies, original equipment manufacturers, and suppliers can use to test and certify their systems, providing a system migration path from test-track to real-world operating environments.
  • In January 2015, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and VTTI partnered to establish the Virginia Connected Corridors (VCC). This new initiative is facilitating the real-world development and deployment of connected-vehicle capabilities using more than 60 roadside equipment units. Envisioned to enhance mobility, increase sustainability, and save lives, connected-vehicle technology has been lauded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and is expected to decrease crash risk by up to 70 percent.
  • Using the VCC, VTTI is working with two other universities (the University of Virginia and Morgan State University) to perform 23 active projects designed to assess such connected applications as work zone safety, freeway merge management, school bus warnings, and emergency vehicle-to-vehicle communication.
  • To date, the institute has conducted more than $30 million in connected-vehicle research and facility development and helped create a federally funded human factors guidelines for the operation of connected vehicles.
  • 30VTTI researchers recently won a $25 million master IDIQ contract from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to work with industry leaders, major auto manufacturers, and suppliers towards the assessment of human factors and cybersecurity factors of automated-vehicle technology.
  • VTTI researchers work with major vehicle manufacturers and suppliers to test, and oftentimes develop, innovative vehicle technologies. Before a new vehicle even hits the road, most of its safety systems are first tested at VTTI.
  • The VTTI-affiliated Center for Injury Biomechanics is working with such partners as original equipment manufacturers, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the National Science Foundation to investigate injury biomechanics, injury modeling, and transportation-related injury biomechanics.
  • The VTTI-affiliated Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS) houses the only equipment in the world designed to test tires at up to 200 mph under realistic combined loading conditions, maximizing tire performance and undertaking efforts to produce more environmentally friendly tires. GCAPS also provides the automotive industry unique tire modeling capabilities, vehicle simulation, and tire simulation.
  • The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a teen driving safety article co-authored by VTTI and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The article became the Top 15 most-read article of more than 10,000 studies published by the journal. The same article was ranked the 58th most “talked about” study among thousands of research articles published in 2014.
  • To date, technical reports resulting from the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study have been cited more than 1,600 times.
  • VTTI researchers, in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), created an algorithm to accurately predict travel times. The research won the Best Scientific Paper Award from the Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress.