Learning an Alternative Car-Following Technique to Avoid Congestion with an Instructional Driving Simulator

Antonio Lucas-Alba, Sharona T. Levy, Oscar M. Melchor, Ana Zarzoso-Robles, Ana M. Ferruz, Maria Teresa Blanch, Andres S. Lombas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article addresses the problem of traffic congestion through a learning perspective, highlighting the capabilities of information, and communication technologies to transform society. Recent physical and mathematical analysis of congestion reveals that training drivers to keep a safe distance systematically contributes to the emergence and maintenance of interference congestion (so-called phantom traffic jam). This article presents the WaveDriving Course (WDC), a simulated learning environment designed to help drivers progress from the traditional drive-to-keep-distance (DD) technique to a new car-following (CF) principle better suited for wave-like traffic, drive-to-keep-inertia (DI). The WDC is based on the ordinary knowledge of the driver (e.g., going through a series of traffic lights) and presents this situation in terms of two possible simultaneous behavioral strategies. The driver has the opportunity to verify that it is possible to achieve the same objective with different consequences. Finally, the WDC checks to what extent this learning generates transfer patterns in the analogous case of CF. This article focuses on results concerning the first WDC module: the traffic-light analogy. Forty-two participants followed the whole learning procedure for about 30 min. An evaluative CF test was administered before and after visioning the tutorial and practicing on the simulator. Overall, transference from this traffic-light analog to the CF situation (posttest) was successful. Results confirm the adoption of the expected DI strategies (speed variability decreased, distance and distance variability to leader increased, fuel consumption decreased, platoon elongation decreased, etc.). The need to improve the WDC teaching of the appropriate CF distance is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-782
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 IEEE.


  • Devices for learning
  • educational simulation
  • self-assessment technologies
  • traffic congestion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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