Local News

Study looks at behavior of Triangle drivers

Posted August 9, 2011 1:17 p.m. EDT
Updated August 9, 2011 6:26 p.m. EDT

— A federal project is studying the driving behavior of about 3,000 people in six states, including North Carolina. 

"We're actually getting in the car with the driver to see what's happening prior to the crash," said Martha Wilaby, Triangle site manager of the Second Strategic Highway Research Program’s Naturalistic Driving Study.

Researchers install cameras in a car to record the driver's movements. There's also a radar on the front of the vehicle to measure its distance from other cars.

Researchers will study the data to find underlying causes of crashes and congestion.

About 150 drivers have signed up for the study in the Triangle. Organizers say the program is open to 300 more drivers. 

Drivers are paid $500 per year, and the study could last for up to two years. Every six months, organizers hold a drawing and award an extra $1,000 to one of the drivers. 

The study is recruiting drivers of all ages, but organizers are trying to find more drivers younger than 25 and older than 65.

To participate, drivers must own or lease a qualifying vehicle, live within about 50 miles of Morrisville, and be willing to complete questionnaires.

Wilaby says all of the data collected will remain confidential.

"If you're in a horrible crash, even if it's your fault and we have it on video, we can't be compelled to present that data," she said. 

Wilaby says the data could make driving safer. 

"This could be used in legislation about cell phone use or...other safety devices on cars. It could be very useful," she said.