Automatic car driving detection using raw accelerometry data

M. Straczkiewicz, J. K. Urbanek, W. F. Fadel, C. M. Crainiceanu, J. Harezlak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Measuring physical activity using wearable devices has become increasingly popular. Raw data collected from such devices is usually summarized as 'activity counts', which combine information of human activity with environmental vibrations. Driving is a major sedentary activity that artificially increases the activity counts due to various car and body vibrations that are not connected to human movement. Thus, it has become increasingly important to identify periods of driving and quantify the bias induced by driving in activity counts. To address these problems, we propose a detection algorithm of driving via accelerometry (DADA), designed to detect time periods when an individual is driving a car. DADA is based on detection of vibrations generated by a moving vehicle and recorded by an accelerometer. The methodological approach is based on short-time Fourier transform (STFT) applied to the raw accelerometry data and identifies and focuses on frequency vibration ranges that are specific to car driving. We test the performance of DADA on data collected using wrist-worn ActiGraph devices in a controlled experiment conducted on 24 subjects. The median area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve (AUC) for predicting driving periods was 0.94, indicating an excellent performance of the algorithm. We also quantify the size of the bias induced by driving and obtain that per unit of time the activity counts generated by driving are, on average, 16% of the average activity counts generated during walking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1757-1769
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 21 2016


  • algorithm
  • driving detection
  • frequency domain
  • overestimation of physical activity
  • raw accelerometry data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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