The impact of intersection design on simulated driving performance of young and senior adults

Oritz Shechtman*, Sherrilene Classen, Burton Stephens, Roxanna Bendixen, Patricia Belchior, Milapt Sandhu, Dennis Mccarthy, William Mann, Ethan Davis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Purpose. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) proposed guidelines for highway design to increase the safe driving ability of older drivers; however, little empirical evidence exists to support the effectiveness of these guidelines. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of implementing these guidelines (in 4 pairs of intersections) on safe driving performance of older and younger drivers using a high-fidelity driving simulator. Design and Methods. We replicated four intersection pairs (improved versus unimproved) in a high-fidelity, virtual reality driving simulator. Simulator scenarios were created from actual road locations, replicating road geometrics and traffic control devices. The simulator's controls were integrated with an actual vehicle to make the driving experience as realistic as possible. Kinematic measures were obtained from the simulator in conjunction with driving errors recorded by trained driving evaluators sitting in the cab of the car. Thirty-nine subjects, 19 younger and 20 older adults, participated in the study. Results. For the kinematic data we found greater lateral control, as indicated by significantly smaller maximum yaw during the turn phase, at all of the improved intersections when compared to the unimproved intersections. We found some significant age differences, but mostly in only one of the intersection-pairs. For the behavioral data, there were significant differences in driving errors between improved and unimproved intersections in two intersection-pairs; however, there were no significant differences in driving errors between the older and younger drivers. Implications. The findings suggest that both young and older drivers may benefit from roadways with safety features recommended by the FHWA guidelines as indicated by the increased lateral control of the vehicle when negotiating these intersections. These findings generate critical information for those involved in the design of roadway systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-86
Number of pages9
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007


  • Driving Kinematics
  • Driving Simulator
  • Highway Safety
  • Intersection Design
  • Older
  • Roadway Infrastructure
  • Younger Drivers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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