Center for Truck and Bus Safety

The Center for Truck and Bus Safety (CTBS) focuses on the research, development, and evaluation of heavy-vehicle systems and operations. CTBS is dedicated to the design, delivery, and implementation of leading-edge research and development efforts aimed at improving the safety of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and those they share the road with. CTBS comprises the Behavioral Analysis and Applications Group and the Human Factors and Advanced System Testing Group. Key research themes within CTBS include the study of driver behavior and the impact on driver safety, with a focus on distraction and fatigue; determining safe operating conditions for CMV drivers; developing education programs for CMV drivers to keep them safe, healthy, and alert and developing education programs for drivers who share the road with CMVs; and assessing advancements of vehicle technology, including connected, platooning, Advanced Driver-Assistance System (ADAS), and Automated Driving System (ADS) applications.

Rich Hanowski
Group Leader

CDISRF (Pooled research on Driver Focused Studies) – FMCSA

The objective of this study was to prospectively examine a wide array of driver personal and situational factors to determine the prevalence of these factors as well as their relationship to being involved in a crash. This study involved the collection of driver medical, demographic, and other personal factors to examine the relationship between these factors with various safety outcomes. Interested drivers completed initial study materials during a driver orientation session with the participating carrier at one of eight different recruitment sites across the United States. Safety outcomes included crash data from the participating carrier and crashes and moving violation convictions from national datasets. Depending on the analysis, exposure included the driver’s tenure at the participating carrier during the study or the amount of time under observation during the study. Data from over 21,000 drivers were collected, and 20,753 of these drivers were included in the analyses. Read More

Sharing the road with large trucks: Teen Driver Education – FMCSA

The purpose of this ongoing project is to provide novice drivers with information and a hands-on learning experience about sharing the road with trucks. Researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) visit driver education programs and conduct a free, onsite demonstration about proper procedures for sharing the road with trucks. The hands-on program is designed to be completed in a single class period and consists of two parts, a 10 minute in-class presentation and an outside truck demonstration (in the school parking lot). A member of the VTTI research team with a commercial driver’s license delivers the presentation immediately before the truck demonstration to help students understand the need to safely share the road with trucks. During the truck demonstration, objects and vehicles are strategically placed around the truck to demonstrate large truck blind spots. The VTTI researchers walk with students around the truck to demonstrate the danger areas around the truck that should be avoided when driving. Student then take turns sitting in the cab of the truck so they can get first-hand experience of the blind spots from a truck driver’s perspective. Read More

Fast Dash Program - FMCSA

The FMCSA’s Advanced System Testing utilizing a Data Acquisition System on the Highways (FAST DASH) program conducts efficient, independent evaluations of promising safety technologies aimed at commercial vehicle operations (CVO). The Center for Truck and Bus Safety (CTBS) at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) was tasked to complete three technology evaluations over five years by focusing on the efficacy of safety systems as measured through: crash reduction effectiveness (i.e., safety improvements), unintended consequences (i.e., safety disbenefits), and user (e.g., driver, safety manager) acceptance. Read More

FAST DASH Program Overview

The FMCSA’s Advanced System Testing utilizing a Data Acquisition System on the Highways (FAST DASH) program conducts efficient, independent evaluations of promising safety technologies aimed at commercial vehicle operations (CVO). The Center for Truck and Bus Safety (CTBS) at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) was tasked to complete three technology evaluations over five years by focusing on the efficacy of safety systems as measured through: crash reduction effectiveness (i.e., safety improvements), unintended consequences (i.e., safety disbenefits), and user (e.g., driver, safety manager) acceptance.

VTTI applied the following process to evaluate the technologies:

  • Controlled Performance Testing – CTBS performs preliminary “shake-down testing” of the technology on the Virginia Smart Road to demonstrate and assess the performance capabilities reported by the vendor.
  • Field Study – CTBS instruments CMVs with data acquisition systems (DAS) to gather naturalistic data from a revenue-producing fleet operating on public roads with the technology installed. The DAS carry a suite of sensors including forward radar, lateral and longitudinal accelerometers, gyro, GPS, access to the vehicle controller area network (CAN), and multiple channels of compressed digital video. The collection of vehicle miles in using a before-after methodology provides insight into the system’s potential safety benefits, system performance under real-world conditions, unintended consequences from the use of the system, and drivers’ impressions of the technology.

Safety Technology Evaluation Project #1
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Brief

Safety Technology Evaluation Project #2
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Brief

Safety Technology Evaluation Project #3
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Brief

CMV Driver Restart – FMCSA

A Congressionally mandated naturalistic study was conducted to evaluate the operational, safety, fatigue and health impacts of the restart provisions in Sections 395.3(c) and 395.3(d) of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations. A total of 235 commercial motor vehicle drivers representative of the industry contributed data while working their normal schedules, with 181 drivers completing all 5 months of the study. Drivers were monitored via electronic logging devices; onboard monitoring systems to detect safety-critical events; wrist actigraph devices for sleep-wake tracking; and smartphone apps for self-ratings of fatigue, sleepiness, stress, sleep quality, and caffeine intake, as well as Brief Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT-B) performance testing. Read More

CMV Driver Restart – FMCSA

A Congressionally mandated naturalistic study was conducted to evaluate the operational, safety, fatigue and health impacts of the restart provisions in Sections 395.3(c) and 395.3(d) of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations. A total of 235 commercial motor vehicle drivers representative of the industry contributed data while working their normal schedules, with 181 drivers completing all 5 months of the study. Drivers were monitored via electronic logging devices; onboard monitoring systems to detect safety-critical events; wrist actigraph devices for sleep-wake tracking; and smartphone apps for self-ratings of fatigue, sleepiness, stress, sleep quality, and caffeine intake, as well as Brief Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT-B) performance testing. Drivers provided 26,964 days of data (17,628 duty days and 9,336 restart days). A total of 3,287 restart/duty cycle sampling units were analyzed. Statistical comparisons were performed using linear and non-linear mixed-effects modeling designed to ensure results were free of selection bias. Drivers’ fatigue ratings were higher, and sleep quality ratings were lower, during 1-night versus 2-night restarts [Section 395.3(c)]. Drivers averaged slower PVT-B response times and more PVT-B lapses during restarts after 168 hours than prior to 168 hours [Section 395.3(d)]. During restarts, drivers obtained significantly more sleep (on average, 2 hours more per day), and rated their sleep quality higher and their stress lower as compared to duty days, regardless of provision use. Results indicate that restarts serve to mitigate driver fatigue, stress, and sleep loss.

Cas Fot1 Field study of HV Crash Avoidance - NHTSA

The purpose of this project was to conduct a large-scale, naturalistic field test of heavy vehicle crash avoidance system (CAS) performance and reliability. The CAS in the study included Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) was always enabled, plus a suite of audio/visual alerts to inform a driver of potential conflicts. The study documented how frequently CAS systems activate under real world conditions, the environmental conditions in which they activate, and how drivers reacted to activations. The study sampled 6,000 activations for further analysis in order to determine how many were safety critical, advisory, or false in nature. Finally, the study characterized CAS activations in order to provide real-world data that could be used to estimate their safety benefits. The study collected over 85,000 hours and 2.5 million miles of truck driving data from all 48 lower U.S. states during data collection. The results of the study were used to understand how drivers experience CAS activations in the real world and what kinds of circumstances generate unnecessary activations. The results of the study have helped NHTSA and industry understand how to improve system usability so that drivers and systems work together to achieve the best safety outcomes. Read More

Bus Operator Workstation – NAS (National Academy of Sciences)

This project was designed to assist transit agencies and bus manufacturers to integrate improved and emerging technologies into current procurement practices and improve bus operator workstation design across the transit industry. The research team sought to develop the updated bus operator workstation guideline, including tools such as the Bus Operator Workstation Feature Guideline and the three-dimensional (3-D) CAD model, Bus Operator Workstation Engineering CAD Model, into products that align with the processes and practices that are common within the rest of the commercial bus and truck industry. To assist in the communication of bus operator workstation requirements with individuals who are not trained in expensive and difficult CAD software, a Bus Operator Workstation 3-D PDF Model was created for anyone who has access to a computer. Read More

Behavioral Analysis and Applications Group

Jeff Hickman
Group Leader

Led by Jeff Hickman, Ph.D., the Behavioral Analysis and Applications (BAA) Group specializes in real-world, high-quality research focused on a variety of behavioral safety and health issues involving heavy-truck and bus drivers. BAA focuses on research and development efforts that advance knowledge in the truck and bus safety and health domains and provide solutions to real-world problems. BAA provides assistance with the design, delivery, and implementation of safety and health improvement interventions using behavior-based and person-based psychology and human factors applications. BAA conducts research on industrial and occupational safety, intelligent transportation systems, safety culture, and training and education programs.

Matthew Camden

Senior Research Associate

Laurel Glenn

Research Associate

Erin Mabry

Senior Research Associate

Human Factors and Advanced System Testing Group

The Human Factors and Advanced System Testing Group (H-FAST) specializes in helping both industry and government sponsors solve transportation challenges by providing high-quality applied research focused on understanding and optimizing interactions between humans (e.g., drivers, passengers, and pedestrians) and the transportation system. This group has experience in providing practical solutions (e.g., advanced technology, public and private policy, and guidelines) for a variety of transportation safety issues (e.g., visibility, fatigue, distraction, and comfort) involving light vehicles, heavy trucks, specialty vehicles (e.g., hazardous materials and fire apparatus) and buses.

Mark Golusky

Lead Research Specialist

Kevin Grove

Research Associate

Paul Hayes

Research Associate

Andrew Krum

Senior Research Associate

Andrew Miller

Research Associate

Abhijit Sarkar

Research Associate

Safety and Human Factors Group

Rich Hanowski
Group Leader

Led in the interim by Rich Hanowski, Ph.D., the mission of the Safety and Human Factors Group is to improve transportation safety and efficiency by advancing the knowledge about driver performance and inherent risks along with applying expertise about driver capabilities and limitations to the design of in-vehicle displays and driver assistance systems.

The group specializes in large-scale, real-world driving studies, product testing and evaluation, user-centered product design and development, and the design and implementation of innovative research tools. Its research contributes to a practical, in-depth knowledge base that informs government, commercial vehicle operations, equipment manufacturers, academia and the public.

Nicoleta Druta

Project Associate

Rebecca Hammond

Research Associate

Susan Soccolich

Research Associate

Scott Tidwell

Electronics Technician

Driving Healthy

As a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver, eating right is challenging because access to healthy food is often limited. It can also be a challenge to find the time or resources to exercise while on the road. The goal of Driving Healthy is to provide CMV drivers with health and wellness information targeted towards the unique needs of CMV drivers. We encourage visitors to explore the information within the Driving Healthy website, to interact with others on our Facebook and Twitter pages, and to share CMV-specific health-related information with others.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Driving Safety

When it comes to commercial trucking, education can play a significant role in the safety and well-being of commercial drivers and the public with whom they share the roads. Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) have come together to provide industry professionals – risk managers, safety directors, dispatchers, and their insurance agents – with the information they need to develop strategies for a safer, more productive workforce. On this website, you will find six interactive modules prepared by VTTI research scientists who specialize in the trucking industry. Each module includes a discussion of safety issues, the latest science on the topic, and tools to help develop practical solutions. We hope that visitors are able to apply the information provided on emerging areas of safety and loss prevention in their business operations.

Tips for Sharing the Road with Commercial Motor Vehicles

The fault in over three-quarters of crashes and near-crashes involving heavy vehicles is primarily attributed to car drivers. This may be indicative of inadequacies in driver education and training programs related to safely sharing the road with heavy vehicles. The Tips for Sharing the Road with Commercial Motor Vehicles website was designed to cover five key sharing-the-road scenarios using video clips of real-world driving events captured during one of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s naturalistic driving studies. The website includes video clips of driving, simulator screenshots, scenario descriptions, short tips and facts, and photographs of actual crashes between cars and heavy vehicles to convey the importance of proper road-sharing behavior. Although the website is aimed at new drivers, all drivers can benefit from reviewing the material and scenarios to ensure that they are sharing the road properly in their everyday driving.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Driving Tips

Housed on the website of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Driving Tips website was developed to educate CMV drivers and fleet managers about common driving errors and provide valuable driving tips through an easily accessible tool, the Internet. The driving tips, ideas, and suggestions outlined on the website are supported with real-world driving video clips that exemplify the errors. The truck videos shown on the website were collected during real-world (open roadway) driving studies conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. As a training exercise, the examples on the website are followed by sets of questions aimed to spark thoughtful introspection of the behaviors shown in the videos.