Volpe Research Targets Distracted Driving
The Volpe Center has long played a leading role in research related to distracted driving and safety. As many as 22% of highway accidents, injuries and fatalities can be attributable to drivers being distracted in the course of operating their vehicles. In some cases, these distractions are external to the driver or vehicle and cannot be controlled. In other cases, however, the drivers themselves are the actual cause of the distraction, especially when multitasking while driving. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood highlighted the U.S. DOT's concern over this issue by recently convening a summit on Distracted Driving. Several major projects in this area are currently underway at the Volpe Center:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Crash Warning Interface Metrics (CWIM) program evaluates the potential need for standardization of in-vehicle driver and crash warning system interface designs and the effectiveness and driver acceptance of active and passive lane departure prevention systems through vehicle simulation research. The Volpe Center provides independent review of CWIM deliverables, including the project test plan, technology survey, data derived from the simulation procedure, statistical analyses of those data, and summary reports.
The RITA/NHTSA-sponsored Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety Systems (IVBSS) concept creates a coordinated suite of in-vehicle technologies that simultaneously warn drivers of imminent crashes and help to prevent rear-end, lane-change and road-departure crashes. This cooperative endeavor includes NHTSA, the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, the Volpe Center, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and the automotive supplier industry.
The Volpe Center's contributions to this initiative include assisting with vehicle systems design and functionality, verifying vehicle test procedures, preparing an independent test evaluation plan, independently evaluating test results, developing data mining algorithms, and creating techniques for forecasting IVBSS safety benefits.
When installed, Positive Train Control (PTC) systems will warn train operators of potential crash situations in real time. The Volpe Center has assisted the Federal Rail Administration to draft new rules covering the use of PTC systems by the nation's railroads through the issuance of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The Volpe Center provides operations research support in the areas of system interoperability, risk assessment and communication security.