You are here

Transportation Human Factors

The U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s 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 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.


  • 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

Specialized Facilities

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

A woman sits in the driver's seat of Volpe's driving simulator, which has five screens that wrap 180 degrees around the user.
Owned by FRA, the research driving simulator at the Volpe Center can emulate the performance of a range of vehicle types in different weather and lighting conditions. (Volpe photo)

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.

Researcher Ed Conde demonstrates a device in Volpe’s Alcohol Countermeasures Laboratory.
Researcher Ed Conde demonstrates how Volpe evaluates alcohol testing devices to ensure that they meet federal specifications. (Volpe photo)
    Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2018