Most modern cars now have an optional safety feature called a collision-avoidance system or pre-crash alert to provide drivers and passengers with an extra line of defense against unexpected road hazards. For instance, there’s an automatic emergency braking usually found in the settings menu of the vehicle. While consumer interest in-vehicle system is growing, the collision avoidance system is not always tested in real-world settings before the vehicle is operated.
This led a team of engineers from the University of Missouri to conduct an open road test of three collision avoidance systems used in today’s cars. They found that drivers’ visual behavior can be divided into one of the four different categories: active gaze, self-conscious gaze, attentive gaze, and ignored gaze, as published by Mizzou News.
Four different visual behavioral categories of drivers
In an active gaze, the driver takes immediate action in response to the pre-crash alert. In a self-conscious gaze, the driver is already aware of the situation that triggers the system alert but still doesn’t react. In an attentive gaze, the driver is aware of the alert but considers it not serious so they ignore the alert. In ignored gaze, the driver doesn’t respond to the alert because they consider it bothersome.
Study author Jung Hyup Kim, who is also an assistant professor in the College of Engineering, told the University’s publication that previous studies used closed-course tracks and driving simulators for testing. However, theirs is one of the first studies to use the real world or open road conditions. A group of college-age male drivers was tracked as they tested each collision avoidance system on 9.3 miles of open roads. It reflected the typical driving experience for their age group.
The researchers filmed each participant while they respond to alerts. Several cameras were used, including a 360-degree camera mounted on the roof of the vehicle, a camera from the passenger side door but pointing at the driver to capture leg and arm movements, and a pair of specialized eyeglasses worn by the driver to see his eye movement. They also installed a GPS camera on the windshield to record the car’s location and speed.
Significance of the study
Kim added that if one truly wants to assess the effectiveness of the collision avoidance system, they have to understand how drivers respond to alerts as every auto company creates its guidelines in generating that alert. Hence, by better understanding the visual behavior of drivers in response to the alert, the data will help auto companies create a more user-friendly system. It will also reduce the chance that a driver will turn off or ignore the collision avoidance system. Kim studied every video seven seconds before and after the alert.
He noticed that as drivers get older or as time goes by, their response times are likely to be more delayed or slower. Therefore, if the researchers can gather data from a thousand drivers and analyze a range of different demographics and ages, the information could be useful for auto companies. The crashworthiness and cost of vehicles and drivers’ safety habits affect the cost of car insurance. To reduce the cost of crashes and out of concern for public safety, insurers support safe driving initiatives. Furthermore, the insurance industry is a major supporter of seatbelt usage and anti-drunk driving campaigns.
The authors believe there are limitations in the study, which are the demographics and the age group of the drivers. They plan to incorporate more drivers of different demographics and ages for their future studies. The researchers presented their paper at the 2020 International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, which was held online due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Highway Safety: Statistics
According to Budget Direct, Australia’s Insurer of the Year for four years in a row, 1,146 people were killed in road-related deaths in Australia in 2019. That means over 3 people died a day because of road-related accidents and 36% of fatal crashes happen in major cities.
Australia’s number of road fatalities may be roughly half of those in the United States (10.6 deaths per 100,000 people), their fatality rate is nearly as twice as bad as the UK. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s number of road fatalities in 2019 was 8.4 per 100,000 people, Australia 5.4, Denmark 3.5, the Netherlands 3.4, United Kingdom 2.9, Sweden 2.8, and Switzerland 2.3. Europe has some of the lowest fatality rates in the world, largely due to measures implemented by the European Road Safety Charter.
The common causes of fatal car accidents in Australia were speeding (31%), alcohol consumption (19%), distraction while driving (18%), driver fatigue and inattention (10%), and other (22%). All four factors mentioned are within human control and are easily prevented. Meanwhile, the most common type of the car accident was non-collisions on a curve (23.1%) followed by opposing directions (20.5%), non-collision (19.8%), a pedestrian (13.1%), adjacent directions (6.7%), same direction (6%), and unknown (10.8%). The insurer also found that collisions with parked cars as the most common type of stationary collision while collisions with stationary objects are often the result of speeding or inattention while driving.
Defensive driving mobile app Aceable also shared car accident statistics in the US. It found 70% of car accident victims are occupants inside the actual vehicle, either they are the driver or the passenger. The other 30% are people outside of cars, such as motorcyclists and pedestrians. This means that drivers are especially at risk but then they also have the power to make the statistics smaller. They can likewise avoid causing suffering and pain. In their chart, the driving mobile app also shows that Friday (16%), Saturday (19%), and Sunday (16%) are the riskiest days to be on the road or to drive. So, this just means that drivers should be cautious on weekends. The percentage of fatal crashes on Mondays to Wednesdays is 12 while on Thursdays 13.
Various collision avoidance systems that are now under development include forward collision warning, the reverse collision warning system, adaptive cruise control (ACC), collision mitigation by braking, and lane-keeping devices.
As vehicles become more automated, it gives hope that road fatalities will be reduced.