Surprised drivers can explain most reported traffic accidents. A simulator study was made to investigate truck drivers' behaviour in critical situations and how they are affected by surprises while driving.
In the study the test subjects drove the simulator for about 30 minutes and then experienced a sudden blow-out on the left front wheel. When the first blow-out occurred the driver was surprised. Another four blow-outs were simulated as the driver continued but on these occasions the driver was prepared.
Both field and simulator studies indicate that it is possible to brake after a blow-out on one of the front wheels. The investigation of how the element of surprise affects driver behaviour would not have been able to be conducted without risk without the driving simulators.
Pettersson H-E. , Aurell J. & Nordmark S. (2006) Truck driver behaviour in critical situations and the impact of surprise – a pilot study of a sudden blow-out on the front axle of a heavy truck. Paris.
Photo: Katja Kircher