Comparing Eye-tracking System Effectiveness in Field and Driving Simulator Studies

Alessandro Calvi1, *, Fabrizio D’Amico1, Andrea Vennarucci2
1 Department of Civil, Computer Science and Aeronautical Engineering, Roma Tre University, Via Vito Volterra 62, 00146, Rome, Italy
2 Ministry of Interior, Department of Firefighters, Public Rescue and Civil Protection, National Firefighter Corps, Via del Commercio 13, 00154 Rome, Italy

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© 2023 Calvi et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Engineering, Roma Tre University, Via Vito Volterra 62, 00146, Rome, Italy; Tel: +390657333451; E-mail:



Several studies have been conducted by combining the benefits of eye-tracking systems with driving simulators to simultaneously investigate driving behavior and the potential source of distraction. However, little effort has been made in terms of eye-tracking validation in the driving simulator environment.


The overall aim of this study is to validate an eye-tracking system within the context of a driving simulation environment by considering a specific urban context application.


A field survey and a driving simulation experiment were conducted for a case study in Rome, Italy. The selected real road sections and events were reproduced on the driving simulator system. An eye-tracking system was used to record eye movements both on a real vehicle and the simulator. The eye movements of 14 participants in the field survey and 18 participants in the driving simulation tests, as well as their driving performances, were collected while approaching an urban intersection in relation to two specific road events: i) the presence of a speed limit sign and ii) the presence of a crossing pedestrian.


Eye tracker parameters and driving performances were compared between the real driving tests and driving simulator experiments in order to validate the eye-tracking system. It was validated for both events in terms of duration and distance of the eye fixation.


The results demonstrated that an eye-tracking system is an effective tool for studies and applications in a virtual reality environment.

Keywords: Eye-tracking, Driving simulator, Driver’s visual strategies, Driving behavior, Urban intersection, Validation.