Maintaining high levels of road traffic safety is always important, especially when the road is in a long tunnel. A simulator study at VTI, the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, shows that different types of lighting in tunnels affect drivers in different ways. These results will be presented this week at RS5C, Road Safety on Five Continents, in Rio de Janeiro.

In order to continuously improve traffic safety, it is important to know how the driver is affected by factors like new technology, driving dynamics, road design, tiredness and so on. With VTI’s driving simulators, repeatable experiments can be carried out and realistic driving experiences can be created.

In Sweden, the Stockholm Bypass tunnel (FFS), is a tunnel which will be approximately 16.5 km in length when finished. In a long tunnel, maintaining the highest possible level of safety is paramount.

– The length of the tunnel is expected to affect the drivers’ experiences pertaining drowsiness, arousal, distraction and feelings of safety and security. Therefore we were asked to make this simulator study before the start of the construction, says Christopher Patten, VTI.

The participants drove two versions of the tunnel, one version with a decoration design in terms of strings of lights in the ceiling of the tunnel and one version of the tunnel without any decoration design.

– Based on the participants’ experiences of the interior design concept of the long tunnel, having stimulating lighting features in different locations along the length of the tunnel is recommended, says Christopher Patten.

The results revealed that 58 per cent of the participants preferred the tunnel with the strings of light in the ceiling and 29 per cent preferred the tunnel without the ceiling lighting. The negative safety implications of the elaborate interior lighting features would appear to be minimal in terms of distraction and irritation whereas the safety benefits in this particularly long road tunnel, in terms of subjective feelings of visual stimulation is encouraging.

VTI, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute is an independent, internationally established research institute which is engaged in the transport sector. Our core competence is in the fields of safety, economy, environment, traffic and transport analysis, public transport, behaviour and the man-vehicle-transport system interaction, and in road design, operation and maintenance. VTI is a world leader in several areas, for instance in simulator technology.

VTI’s simulator environment is unique. It currently comprises three large, advanced driving simulators, SIM II, SIM III and SIM IV. The institute uses an in-house developed open source code and can therefore offer experiments tailored to the needs that exist.
Smaller fixed based simulators are also developed for various specific purposes, like driver training, medical assessment and demonstrations. These simulators are customized for external parties and based on the VTI simulation software to enable a “plug-and-play” solution with VTI’s full scale simulators.

Road Safety on Five Continents (RS5C) is an international conference aiming at increasing road safety globally by providing a platform for this essential knowledge exchange and helping the participating countries to find a good balance between road safety and mobility. RS5C is organised by VTI in close cooperation with The Brazilian National Association for Transportation Research and Education (ANPET). The conference is held at Windsor Flórida Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

For more information about the study and its results, please contact the authors.
Christopher Patten,
Selina Mårdh,

Illustration: VTI

VTI, Statens väg- och transportforskningsinstitut, är ett oberoende och internationellt framstående forskningsinstitut inom transportsektorn. Huvuduppgiften är att bedriva forskning och utveckling kring infrastruktur, trafik och transporter. Kvalitetssystemet och miljöledningssystemet är ISO-certifierat enligt ISO 9001 respektive 14001. Vissa provningsmetoder är dessutom ackrediterade av Swedac. VTI har omkring 200 medarbetare och finns i Linköping (huvudkontor), Stockholm, Göteborg, Borlänge och Lund.

Andreas Schander
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