driver assistance systems

Driver assistance systems in all cars would cut accidents by a quarter, research says

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Car crashes could be reduced by 24 per cent if every car in the UK was equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), researchers have said.

The research also found that automatic emergency braking (AEB) is the most impactful technology, reducing three out of the four most frequent accident categories: intersection (by 28 per cent), rear-end (by 27.7 per cent) and pedestrian accidents (by 28.4 per cent).

The research was funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) under their academic-industrial partnership programme.

Based on publicly available road safety reports from the UK for 2019, the research team estimated that a full deployment of ADAS would reduce accident frequency in the UK by 23.8 per cent, representing an annual decrease of an estimated 18,925 accidents.

Existing research shows that connected and automated vehicles (CAV) are expected to improve road safety substantially, including reducing accident frequency and severity.

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), as of May 2018, 92.7 per cent of new vehicles in the US have at least one ADAS. In the UK and the EU, vehicles with ADAS, including AEB, are becoming more common.

Lead author Leandro Masello, data scientist at Motion-S, said that although ADAS provides considerable road safety benefits, its performance is often constrained by challenging conditions, such as adverse weather.

“The driving environment affects vehicle dynamics and sensor capabilities,” he said. “A system that suddenly brakes to avoid a crash will perform better in dry weather conditions than in adverse conditions like heavy rain and ice, which reduce tyre traction and can cause the vehicle to skid.

“Similarly, inclement weather also impairs the sensors’ ability to perceive the environment accurately. For example, a snowstorm could obstruct the camera vision system or cover lane boundaries.”

Co-author Dr German Castignani said road safety reports are a fundamental source of information for the continuous development of the car industry as they help study the distribution of the accidents’ environmental conditions.

“They provide information about the vehicles and casualties involved and the accident circumstances (e.g. geographical, temporal and road information). Our work leverages such data to estimate the potential reductions in accidents that ADAS can mitigate,” he added.

In the future, wide availability of driverless cars has been touted as a possible solution to road traffic accidents, with some researchers suggesting that up to 90 per cent of accidents could be avoided.

However, in 2020, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a study where it found that, in reality, autonomous vehicles may only reduce accidents by a third, unless the AI driving style is optimised for safety rather than speed or convenience.

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