High-tech driver warning system could save lives
The U.S. Department of Transportation has launched an integrated driver assistance initiative that could reduce rear-end, “run-off-road” and lane-change crashes by 48 percent, according to the DOT. About 3.6 million of those types of crashes occur on U.S. highways each year, resulting in approximately 27,500 fatalities, or 75 percent of all fatal crashes.
Sources: DOT, Roemer Report (used with permission)
The Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety Systems (IVBSS) program involves several high-tech, crash-warning subsystems. Forward crash warning (FCW) warns drivers of the potential for a rear-end crash with another vehicle; lateral drift warning (LDW) warns drivers that they may be drifting inadvertently from their lane or departing the roadway; lane-change/merge warning (LCM) warns drivers of possible unsafe lateral maneuvers based on adjacent or approaching vehicles in adjacent lanes and includes full-time side object presence indicators. In addition, the light-vehicle platform also includes curve-speed warning (CSW), which warns drivers that they are driving too fast into an upcoming curve and, as a result, might depart the roadway. All four subsystems employ sensors.
In the initial phases of the study, the DOT wants to know if integrating multiple sensor-warnings into a single system will reduce driver distractions and thus crashes…or overwhelm drivers with too much information.
As part of the study, the DOT contracted with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute to conduct field operational tests using 16 passenger cars and 10 commercial trucks equipped with an integrated crash avoidance system. The goal: collect data to objectively assess the potential safety benefits and driver acceptance associated with prototype integrated crash warning systems.
For the light-vehicle portion of the test, 108 lay drivers will operate test vehicles in place of their own personal cars for a period of six weeks. Forty truck drivers from a commercial fleet will operate heavy trucks in place of the Class 8 tractors they normally use as their work vehicles for a period of five months. All vehicles are instrumented to capture information regarding the driving environment, driver activity, system behavior and vehicle kinematics. Driver information will be captured through a series of subjective questionnaires, focus groups and debriefing sessions to determine driver acceptance and to gain insight for improving future versions of integrated crash warning systems.
Data from the tests can be used as the basis for answering questions concerning the warning system and how drivers used it. The field test analysis will address three study areas:
• Driver acceptance and driver understanding of the crash warning system;
• Driving performance and driver behavior with and without the system, including safety-related findings; and
• Potential successes of integrated crash warning products, when deployed.
The 54-month study, sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, will combine existing research results, commercial products and system integration efforts to develop an integrated solution to dangerous highway problems.