Transportation & Vehicle Safety Policy

Quantitative analysis of steering adaptation on a high performance fixed-base driving simulator

McGehee, D.V.; LEE, J.; Rizzo, M.; DAWSON, J.; Bateman, K.


We assessed the time required for 80 experienced drivers (28 younger and 52 older) to adapt to a simulator and to steer in a stable manner. All participants drove on two-lane rural highways created on a fixed-base, interactive driving simulator known as the SIREN. Results showed that drivers adapt and steering behavior stabilizes within approximately 240 s of the start of the simulator scenario. Older drivers’ steering behavior is more variable than younger drivers’, but both adapt at similar rates. Fourier analyses of steering data showed that high and low-frequency components of the steering variability are differentially sensitive to age and adaptation.

Evidence that drivers need less time to adapt their steering behavior to the simulation environment than is afforded by the currently used extended practice periods could reduce costs and potentially increase sample sizes. Researchers should assess the degree and speed of adaptation to other components of driving to ensure that drivers are provided with sufficient time to fully adapt to the simulator before data are collected.