This past summer, I participated in a statistics-based project in Wharton’s Statistics Department under Dr. Abraham Wyner. The project had several goals primarily focused on understanding baseline driving behavior of teenage drivers (ages 16-19 years old) and elderly drivers (ages above 65 years old). For the purposes of our research, baseline driving was defined as that which occurs under clear, relatively dry weather conditions, with medium traffic density; it will be used to distinguish certain characteristics of drivers who are more prone to crashes or near-crashes. A potential future extension of this project would be to identify the most concerning weaknesses across driver age groups and account for them in automobile design.
Originally, we intended to separate every individual trip by the age group of the subject driver, but due to a lack of data availability and the sheer size of the datasets, the project goals were slightly amended. We expanded our target age groups to include six groups from teens and inexperienced adults on one end through experienced drivers and older drivers. Ultimately we examined the relationship between headway (time in seconds between the rear bumper of a moving lead vehicle and the front bumper of the moving subject vehicle) as a proportion of trip duration and rate at which certain groups of drivers had crashes or near-crash experiences.
My job on this project centered around my ability to clean data using R and to present data and findings in an easily comprehensible fashion. This project allowed me to not only condition my knowledge of statistics through real-world applications, but it gave me the opportunity to learn a valuable skill in the R programming language. It reinforced my passion for statistical analysis while providing me a valuable experience that I otherwise would not have been able to enjoy.