Variable Speed Limit (VSL) control contributes to potential crash risk reduction by suggesting a suitable dynamic speed limit to achieve more stable and uniform traffic flow. In recent studies, researchers adopted macroscopic traffic flow models and perform prediction-based optimal VSL control. The response of drivers to the advised VSL is one of the most critical parameters in VSL-controlled speed dynamics modeling, which significantly affects the accuracy of traffic state prediction as well as the control reliability and performance. Nevertheless, the variations of driver responses were not explicitly modeled. Thus, in this research, the authors proposed a dynamic driver response model to formulate how the drivers respond to the advised VSL during various traffic conditions. The model was established and calibrated using field data to quantitatively analyze the dynamics of drivers’ desired speed regarding the advised VSL and current traffic state variables. A proactive VSL control algorithm incorporating the established driver response model was designed and implemented in field-data-based simulation study. The design proactive control algorithm modifies VSL in real-time according to the traffic state prediction results, aiming to reduce potential crash risks over the experiment site. By taking into account the real-time driver response variations, the VSL-controlled traffic state dynamics was more accurately predicted. The experimental results illustrated that the proposed control algorithm effectively reduces the crash probabilities in the traffic network.