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AN INVESTIGATION OF LANE-CHANGING RELATED ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS AND POSSIBLE LANE-CHANGING INDICATORS ON HIGHWAY
Unsafe lane changes have been identified as a common factor in motor vehicle accidents. It would be helpful, particularly for automated vehicles, to know if there are behaviors of vehicles, beyond a directional signal, or characteristics of the traffic environment that correlated with a higher probability of an unsafe lane change (lane changes without a directional signal). This work investigates what the observable cues are that drivers use to determine the relative safety when overtaking front vehicles, and if drivers make more lane changes under certain conditions on highways. This study utilizes interviews, surveys, 3D animation software, and highway driving public footage for data collection and experiments. It is found that a side-to-side motion of the front vehicle or a factor that might trigger a side-to-side motion of the front vehicle in the environment is the key marker that indicates a possible unsafe lane change, and it is also found that traffic speed, time of day, traffic flow, and a combination of traffic density & number of lanes & vehicle count all have effects on drive’s decision on making lane changes on different levels.