Driver distraction is occurring with greater frequency as in-vehicle technology and carried-in devices become increasingly common and complicated. Consequently, distraction and inattention contribute to many crashes and are likely to have an increasing influence on driving safety. Two research trajectories have been developed at NADS to investigate ways to reduce the frequency and severity of distraction while driving.
Examining the potential of crash avoidance systems to mitigate safety-critical driver performance while distracted is the first thread. The objective of this research study is to determine how readily drivers are able to use LDW to improve lane recovery and crash avoidance, and in particular how this is related to warning modality and active warning strategies. Active warnings are of particular interest, both because they presumably have greater potential to promote rapid vehicle control responses and because their potential to induce inappropriate driver reactions is not well understood. Examples of inappropriate driver reactions include over-correction in steering, strong lateral acceleration, severe deceleration, and startle responses. The study will also address driver acceptance issues. A system that is not well accepted by drivers may be turned off and would therefore not be effective.
Technological interventions is the second thread, providing a means to detect and mitigate driver behavior and/or performance in order to reduce the frequency and severity of distraction-related crashes. Advances in sensor technology and algorithms have made these more feasible. Preliminary research suggests that technology that can detect and mitigate dangerous episodes of distraction has great promise, but there are many possible ways to detect and mitigate distraction and no systematic way to compare systems and assess their efficacy. This research fills these critical gaps by developing a framework for systematic methodologies for describing and evaluating systems, as well as developing a prototype system. The prototype system will serve to demonstrate the framework and evaluation methods and to identify promising new directions in developing this important safety technology.