The Office of the Vice President for Research recognizes Miguel Perez, the director of the Center for Data Reduction and Analysis Support at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, for studying the behavior of motorists in real driving conditions using sophisticated “naturalistic driving” research methods.
He has recently been charged with efforts related to naturalistic driving study design and analysis, data standardization, data preparation, and data mining.
In a naturalistic observational study, cars are equipped with devices that continually monitor driving behavior, the driver’s head and hand movements, vehicle movements, and speed in a variety of traffic conditions. By analyzing the relationships between the driver and the vehicle, road, traffic, and other conditions, researchers learn how to improve safety along the roadways.
Perez’s research interests include driver distraction, human modeling, collision-avoidance systems, “infotainment” systems, and driver performance in test track and naturalistic environments.
He has studied the driving behaviors of a large sample of drivers in their personal vehicles during the SHRP2 Naturalistic Driving Study of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. In addition, he has supported the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the development of research plans for portable devices and voice interfaces, explored how different cell phone use modes affect driver performance, and examined the effects of interface modality in destination entry and navigation tasks, among others.
A recent study has suggested that voice-based telematics systems are the easiest-to-use form of in-vehicle navigation, allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road and resulting in better vehicle handling.
The study, run by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, followed 20 participants as they used five devices — a cell phone navigation app, a personal navigation device, OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation, OnStar Destination Download, and a paper map — to navigate unfamiliar routes.
Researchers studied how well the participants followed the directions, their driving performance and the number of glances away from the road. As it turns out, the type of device has a significant impact on a driver’s focus.
Perez has also been involved in research for the National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence and numerous proprietary research efforts. He holds a Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech.