VTT studies impacts of the intelligent vehicle safety systems
The assessment shows considerable potential to improve traffic safety
Intelligent vehicle safety systems will clearly improve traffic safety if they are extensively taken into use. Many of the systems effectively reduce the number of fatalities and injuries, although without special measures, the systems will only slowly become more common in vehicles. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a method together with other partners to assess the safety impacts of future vehicle systems and some existing systems in Europe (EU-25). Based on the analysis, the most prominent systems were electronic stability control (ESC); lane keeping support; emergency braking system; SpeedAlert, a system that warns the driver about speeding; and eCall, an automatic emergency call system. The systems have good potential to improve safety. However, some of the systems have not yet been implemented in cars and the ones already implemented are currently installed in vehicles to a limited extent.
Assessing the safety impacts of intelligent vehicle systems is challenging.
The impacts of the systems may appear in many, also unexpected, ways. The
assessment must take into account the impacts on driver behaviour and other
road users and their interaction, the impacts on the selection of the
transport mode and route and the amount of driving, as well as the impacts on
the consequences of accidents. The assessment method takes into account all
the known impacts of the systems on safety. The project produced reliable
information on the impacts of the systems, which made it possible to assess
which of the systems should be most keenly promoted. This is the first time
that the quantitative impacts of future systems were assessed to this extent.
According to the assessment, the system that best improves traffic safety is electronic stability control (ESC); if fitted in all vehicles, the system would reduce fatalities by almost 17%. The lane keeping support system would reduce the amount of fatalities by approximately 15%. The system that would be third best in reducing fatalities, offering a reduction of 13%, is the MAPS&ADAS system, which warns the driver when he or she is exceeding the speed limit and also warns the driver about accident-prone sites, such as difficult turns and steep bends.
Other vehicle safety systems assessed included, for example,
- Speed adaptation due to weather conditions, obstacles or congestion (the speed limit recommended by the system is selected based on the prevailing conditions, such as the weather, traffic volume or accidents)
- emergency braking (warns the driver about impending collisions and automatically applies the brakes, if necessary),
- automatic emergency call system eCall (calls the nearest rescue services and sends data regarding the exact location where an accident has taken place),
- Local danger warning (vehicles are able to communicate and transmit information about accidents, objects on the road, slippery spots and poor visibility),
- Cooperative intersection collision warning (warns the driver about a red light and the obligation to give way as well as makes it easier to turn left), and
- Night Vision Warning (assists the driver in seeing further than the headlight beam and also issues warnings regarding possible obstructions on the road).
Intelligent vehicle safety systems can save lives but they are only slowly becoming more common in vehicles. The most significant factors for the slow rate at which the systems are being implemented are the high price of the systems and the unwillingness of people purchasing cars to pay more for such systems. Large luxury vehicles are a part of the top market segment, but cooperation between different parties and legislative actions are needed to speed up the uptake of the systems.
The assessment method was developed and used by VTT in cooperation with the partners in three EU projects (eIMPACT, PReVAL and CODIA). The assessments performed in these projects covered the impacts of approximately twenty systems in fatalities and injuries within the EU. The method will be used next to assess the impacts of the same vehicle systems in Finland. The project will continue until the end of 2008. In the future, various intelligent vehicle systems will be assessed in extensive field operational tests connected to the TeleFOT project in Finland and other countries in Europe. For more information about the project, please visit www.telefot.eu/.
The eIMPACT project studied the socio-economic impacts of twelve intelligent vehicle safety systems on traffic and safety as well as assessed the cost-efficiency of the systems in twenty-five EU countries. VTT was in charge of the project’s safety impact assessments and together with other partners developed a new method for this purpose. The method is suitable for assessing the safety impacts of all intelligent vehicle safety systems. The project budget was EUR 2.5 million. For more information on the project, please visit www.eimpact.eu.
PReVAL was a part of the major Integrated Project PReVENT (www.prevent-ip.org), which developed and demonstrated prototypes of a variety of preventive and active vehicle safety systems. The assessment method used by PReVAL covers technical performance, human factors and safety analysis. VTT was the leader of the PReVAL project and also the partner in charge of safety impact assessments. In addition, VTT was involved in human factors evaluation. The budget of the PReVAL project was more than EUR 1 million. For more information about the project, please visit www.prevent-ip.org/en/prevent_subprojects/horizontal_activities/preval/.
The CODIA project studied the socio-economic impacts of five cooperative systems including safety impacts as well as the traffic and environmental impacts of four systems in twenty-five EU countries. Cooperative systems utilise data transfer between vehicles or between vehicles and traffic services. The safety impact assessment based on eIMPACT and PReVAL projects was further developed and utilized. VTT was the project leader and was in charge of the safety impacts and the benefit/cost assessments of the systems. The budget of the CODIA project was approximately EUR 350,000.