Truck drivers’ behavior in encounters with vulnerable road users at intersections: Results from a test-track experiment
Crashes involving cyclists and pedestrians in Europe cause the deaths of about 7600 persons every year. Both cyclists and pedestrians are especially exposed in crashes with motorized vehicles and collisions with trucks can lead to severe injury outcomes. The two most frequent crash scenarios between trucks and these vulnerable road users (VRU) are: a) when the truck wants to turn right at an intersection, with a cyclist riding parallel and planning to cross the intersection and b) when a pedestrian crosses in front of the truck in perpendicular direction to the movement of the truck. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)—that are expected to prevent or mitigate these crashes—benefit from detailed information about the behavior of truck drivers. This study is a first exploration of this research area, with the aim to assess how drivers negotiate the encounters with VRUs in the two scenarios described above. Thirteen participants drove an instrumented truck on a test-track. After some baseline recordings, the drivers experienced two laps where they encountered a cyclist target and a pedestrian target crossing their path. The results show that the truck drivers adapted their kinematic and visual behavior in the laps where the VRU targets were crossing the intersection, compared to the baseline laps. The speed profiles of the drivers diverged approximately 30 m from the intersection and glances were directed more often towards front right and right, during the scenario with the cyclist in comparison to baseline laps. For the scenario with the pedestrian crossing, the drivers changed their speed about 14 m from the intersection and glances were directed more often towards the front center, compared to baseline laps. As a result, both the speed and distance from the intersection at the end of the maneuver were significantly different between VRU and baseline laps. Overall, the findings provide valuable information for the design of ADAS that warn the drivers about the presence of a cyclist travelling in parallel direction or that intervene to avoid a collision with a cyclist or pedestrian.