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Safety assessment results for future in-vehicle safety systems

VTT Technical Research Centre : 10 December, 2008  (Technical Article)
VTT Technical Research assesses impact of intelligent vehicle safety systems on the future of road traffic injuries and fatalities
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:.

* 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).
* 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.
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