Changing the way we change lanes

June 25, 2012

By giving drivers the information they need to change lanes safely, a new device could reduce road crashes by up to 30 per cent.

Robin Hutchinson, currently completing his PhD at the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), with MUARC researchers Professor Thomas Triggs and Dr Paul Salmon, has developed and is testing a driver support system that aids drivers’ decision making when performing lane changes.

Lane change and related manoeuvres are responsible for up to 30 per cent of road collisions worldwide. Drivers have difficulty judging their location and speed relative to other vehicles.

Mr Hutchinson said existing lane change decision aids alert drivers to potential collisions rather than providing the information needed to drive well.

"Merely alerting the driver of a potential collision does not aid the driver in making the judgements needed to safely perform a lane change,” Mr Hutchinson said.

The new system presents all the information drivers need to make an optimal change of lanes. By converting information that is challenging for drivers to judge – vehicle locations, safety margins and acceleration requirements – into a simple visual form, the system allows drivers to understand their relationship to other vehicles and guide their actions appropriately.

The strength of the new device stems from its presentation of relevant information in a manner that is consistent with humans’ natural perceptual ability.

“We are very good at using natural perception to move around our environment. For example, most people can easily walk through a doorway without touching the sides, or guide their hand to grasp a cup without missing it," Mr Hutchinson said.

"By utilising the strengths of our perceptual system to present useful information we can greatly enhance drivers’ ability to perceive other vehicles, safety margins and acceleration requirements.”

Preliminary results indicate that using the new system perform substantially safer lane changes than while using current lane change assistance systems, or with no assistance at all.

Mr Hutchinson is now recruiting for participants to evaluate the effectiveness of the new system in one of MUARC's two driving simulators.

“The simulator allows us to safely evaluate the new system without the potential hazards of an on-road study,” Mr Hutchinson said.

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not rated yet Jun 25, 2012
"Hey, don't look at me, officer! That damned car told me the lane change was safe!"

I suspect that the authors of this study work for an body that is supported by the American Insurance Industry.

I mean, like airbags and seat belts. If you have airbags, then why seat belts? Ask the insurance industry.

not rated yet Jun 25, 2012
Use of 'Calculus' while driving, is automatic and natural. Situations are constantly in 'flux', and our decisions, are likewise ever in flux, adjusting constantly.
A 'convex lens' in the upper-right corner of the driver-side mirror, has been attached to my vehicle for several years, though only recently have I began to 'see it first' for the purpose of 'viewing' the 'blind spot'. It works very well, as vehicles are only visible when they are in the 'blind spot'.
Such does not eliminate caution, though it reduces complexities of the ever-evolving 'calculus' considerations.
1 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2012
Because seat belts keep you from flying out of the car, and flying around inside the car.

Air bags do not, but do provide a nice cushion between you and portions of the car's interior.

"If you have airbags, then why seat belts?" - rlosers

Astonishing that you are unaware of the obvious.

not rated yet Jun 26, 2012
Off course, v... and seatbelts save lives too... and sometime not. Are you an actuary?

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