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Surface Transportation Human Factors

Two people in crosswalk cut off by speeding car. (aaron007 / 123RF Stock Photo)

Volpe’s Surface Transportation Human Factors Division provides internationally recognized human factors research, engineering, development, and evaluation capabilities within a human systems integration framework. We pioneer new relationships between humans and policies, processes, automation, and technologies to improve transportation safety, security, and productivity with due concern for unintended consequences.

Our team specializes in the analysis and characterization of operator performance capabilities and behavior under normal, abnormal, and emergency conditions. We identify, develop, and apply the existing knowledge on human capability, judgment, and decision making to complex transportation systems to inform design and formulate policy.

We work with DOT and public- and private-sector transportation organizations to improve safety culture and safety reporting.

Specialized Facilities

Our human factors laboratories house simulators and other technologies to support various human performance studies.

Our alcohol countermeasures laboratory performs evaluations of evidential breath test instruments and alcohol screening devices and provides expert services to reduce the level of intoxicated driving.


  • Human-machine interaction research and assessment to improve transportation system design and operation
  • Human-centered automation evaluation and design
  • Operator impairment evaluation (e.g., fatigue, drugs, alcohol, distraction)
  • Human error assessments and countermeasure development
  • Experimental design and statistical analysis
Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2018
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