National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) Director Daniel McGehee made recommendations for human subjects testing in driving research for the COVID-19 era to the Transportation Research Board (TRB) during its mid-year meeting earlier this month.
How to keep people safe in driving research—in both simulators and on-road vehicles—is not something that has been widely shared or standardized in the research community. In many tests, multiple people are in the vehicle.
With help from other NADS staff members, McGehee, an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, occupational and environmental health, and emergency medicine, consulted with various infectious disease experts, including Loreen Herwaldt. Herwaldt is a University of Iowa professor of internal medicine - infectious diseases and of epidemiology as well as a COVID-19 expert. Members from the WHO and the past president of Canadian Infectious Disease Society also contributed to the recommendations.
Here is a sample of the recommendations:
- Participants shall wear three-layer surgical masks. If experiments require an unmasked face, exclude on-board personnel if possible
- Minimize talking in the vehicle
- Keep cooling fans on low speed
- Open windows/sunroof for fresh air
- Install Hepa filters in HVAC systems
Physical barriers inside the vehicle will not be used due to crashworthiness concerns and glare. The recommendations were met with an overwhelming positive response and appreciation.
NADS is one of the 25 centers and labs that make up the University of Iowa Technology Institute and is a national leader in research to improve driver and vehicle safety.
The full presentation is available here.