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Assessing Driver Response Time (DRT) in Various Motor Vehicle Collision Scenarios

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Accident reconstructionists and collision investigators are often asked to reconstruct vehicle collisions with respect to the speeds and dynamics of the vehicle(s), cyclist(s), and/or pedestrian(s) involved. Most often, the reconstructionist and investigator are also asked to determine if the collision was avoidable. One of the challenges in a collision avoidance analysis is determining a reasonable perception-response time (i.e., the time required for the through driver to detect, perceive, and begin an evasive maneuver in response to the pedestrian) given the circumstances involved in the incident case.

In the following peer-reviewed, scientific publications, we take a closer look at driver response times (DRTs) in historically under-researched collision scenarios to determine relevant and useful DRT values.

Driver Response to Left Incurring Path Intrusions at Sign-Controlled Intersections

Straight intersecting path or “side” collisions account for 12% of all motor vehicle crashes and 24% of fatalities. While previous research has examined driver responses to hazards striking from the right (near side), no research has quantified driver responses to hazards striking from the left (far side) of an intersection. In this study we examine the driver response time (DRT) of drivers confronted with a left-incurring hazard at an unsignalized intersection.

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Driver Response to Right Turning Path Intrusions at Signalized Intersections

Previously researched path intrusion scenarios include left-turning hazard vehicles which intrude laterally across the path of the through driver. A right turning vehicle, however, creates a scenario where a hazard which was initially travelling perpendicular to the driver can intrude into the through driver’s path without also occupying the adjacent through lanes. This hazard scenario has not been previously investigated. The purpose of this research was to determine driver response time (DRT) and response choice to a right turning vehicle that merges abruptly into the lane of the oncoming through driver.

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Driver Response Time to Cyclist Path Intrusions

Motor vehicle crashes with cyclists are on the rise in the USA. Although some research exists on the response time of drivers to some types of path intrusions, data on the perception-response of through drivers to cyclists who fail to stop at a stop sign and ride into the path of the vehicle has not been researched. The purpose of this study was to quantify the driver response time (DRT) to a cyclist that intrudes perpendicularly in front of a through vehicle at an intersection where the driver has the right-of-way.

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Driver Response Time to Left-Turning Vehicles at Traffic Signal Controlled Intersections

Left-turn crashes account for almost one quarter of all collisions. Although research has quantified the response time of drivers to left-turning vehicles with high acceleration profiles, research is lacking for driver responses to realistic left-turning vehicle acceleration. The purpose of this research was to determine the driver response time (DRT) to a left-turning vehicle from the first lateral movement of the left-turning vehicle.

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Driver Response Time to Midblock Crossing Pedestrians

Vehicle-pedestrian collisions account for 15% of fatal crashes in the USA, and there has been an increase in fatal crashes in the USA from 2006 to 2015. Although research exists on the response time of drivers responding to pedestrian path intrusions, data on the response time of through drivers to jaywalking pedestrians crossing from the far side of the road has not been determined. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to quantify driver response time (DRT) to a pedestrian that intrudes perpendicularly into the path of a vehicle from the far curb (adjacent to oncoming traffic).

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This publication is for educational and general information purposes only. It may contain errors and is provided as is. It is not intended as specific advice, legal, or otherwise. Opinions and views are not necessarily those of J.S. Held or its affiliates and it should not be presumed that J.S. Held subscribes to any particular method, interpretation, or analysis merely because it appears in this publication. We disclaim any representation and/or warranty regarding the accuracy, timeliness, quality, or applicability of any of the contents. You should not act, or fail to act, in reliance on this publication and we disclaim all liability in respect to such actions or failure to act. We assume no responsibility for information contained in this publication and disclaim all liability and damages in respect to such information. This publication is not a substitute for competent legal advice. The content herein may be updated or otherwise modified without notice.

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