autonomous vehicles, car crashes, Collisions, Crashes and Collisions, Distracted Driving, driverless technology, Driverless Vehicles, NHTSA, Road Safety Research, Self-Driving Cars, Technology, traffic fatalities, Traffic Safety

Defining safe behavior standards for autonomous vehicles

Google_self-driving_car

The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020, in an average month, more than 150,000 people a month will be killed in traffic accidents around the world.  Around 90% of crashes are caused by human error – so will driverless cars reduce the number of incidences that lead to too many fatalities on the road?

In 2015, Nevada led the way in passing legislation regarding self-driving cars at the state level. Since then, several other states including California, Hawaii, Florida, Arizona and Oklahoma have proposed similar legislation to set standards for regulating self-driving cars. The problem with passing laws that regulate safety standards for autonomous vehicles (AVs) lies in not having a consistent standard defining “safe driving” in terms of how an AV can understand robotic rules of the road – every company that has forayed into the field is writing their standards in a different way. That is why some in the industry think the time has come to devise a standardized set of rules for how AVs should behave in different situations.

A team of researchers at Mobileye, a provider of AV technology, published a paper on a framework, “Responsibility-Sensitive Safety”, that outlines mathematical rules for various activities performed by AVs – lane-changing, pulling out into traffic and driving cautiously when pedestrians or other vehicles are partially occluded, etc. The framework covers all 37 pre-crash scenarios in the accident database maintained by National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It is hoped that this framework would be adopted as the basis of an open industry standard. A similar proposal, “Open Autonomous Safety”, was put forth by Voyage, another player in the AV field, that defines the correct, safe behavior for vehicles in a range of circumstances, including pedestrians being in the road, nearby vehicles reversing and arrival at a four-way stop. In addition, Voyage has made its internal safety procedures, materials and test code all open source, with the aim of providing a foundational safety resource in the industry.

Dr. Bryant Walker Smith, assistant professor in the School of Law and School of Engineering at the University of South Carolina, was interviewed about how self-driving cars can change the way people travel.

bryansmithred

Professor Smith welcomes the proposals from Mobileye and Voyage, but warns that it is too soon for regulators to “calcify dynamic conversations that are fundamentally technical in nature”. Researcher predict it will take years rather than months for the industry to cohere around a standard, but are optimistic it will eventually happen because discussions are already under way and because many people working in the field of autonomous vehicles are recent recruits from academia, who consider sharing and open-sourcing to be second nature.

 

car crashes, Collisions, Crashes and Collisions, Distracted Driving, gesture control, Road Safety Research, Technology, Texting and Driving

Ending Distracted Driving Awareness Month With A View Toward Technology

Any activity that places either visual or manual demands on a driver substantially increases the risk of a crash. This includes texting, browsing, dialing a hand-held phone or engaging in conversation either with passengers or on a hands-free device that makes people react badly to hazards.

hand point The growing sales of luxury cars with advanced safety and comfort features have fueled the development of the automotive “gesture-recognition” market, expected to surpass $13 billion worldwide by 2024. Gesture control not only makes using various in-built systems easier, but also reduces the probability of causing a distraction-related collision by minimizing the need to take one’s eyes away from the road. But will gesture control really eliminate the dangers associated with the use of hands-free devices aimed at keeping driver’s eyes on the road?  

Consider a vehicle being driven at 40 mph and the driver needs to adjust the volume of the radio, change the channel or look at GPS, that might take the driver’s eyes away for about 1.2 seconds. A car traveling at that speed will cover more than 20 meters in 1.2 seconds, opening opportunities for a mishap just waiting to happen. Now combine this scenario with the multitude of features available in vehicles today such as infotainment systems in addition to the alarming rise in the use of mobile phones while driving. 

The idea behind gesture control is that instead of pressing a button, a driver waves his or her hand, points or otherwise gestures. So even with gesture control, the driver is still taking one hand off the wheel. Plus, the driver still has to look at the device to see which option to pick, so the driver’s eyes are still off the road.

Distraction happens in three forms – manual, visual and cognitive. With gesture control, the manual and visual elements are still at play; the crucial cognitive element of distraction does not change the nature of the cognitive distraction at all. It is essential for road safety that drivers think about driving – not about controlling the  newest “infotainment systems” that offer seamless connectivity with smartphones and other wireless devices.  Most infotainment systems are still operated by buttons and warrant a diversion of the driver’s attention, even if for just a little more than a second.

 

Distracted Driving, distressed driving, emotional driving, Stress, Stressful Driving

#Stress and #DistractedDriving

stressed driver

Stress, no matter the source, can lead to distracted driving.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Traffic Safety Facts April, 2019 Research Note reported that nine percent of fatal crashes in 2017 were reported as distraction- affected crashes, killing 3,166 people. The age group consisting of 15 to 19 year-olds had the largest proportion of drivers who were reported as being involved in distraction-affected crashes.

The NHTSA recently pinpointed stress, or driving under the influence of emotions – distressed driving – as a cause of as many as 80% of crashes involving distracted driving.  While distressed driving is not punishable under the law, it may have severe public safety consequences.

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it is real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in an automatic process known as the “stress response.” The body’s nervous system, however,  isn’t very good at distinguishing between emotional and physical threats. If you become super stressed over an argument, a work deadline, or a mountain of bills, your body can react just as strongly as if you are facing a true life-or-death situation.

According to the widely validated Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, these are the top ten stressful life events for adults:

  • Death of a spouse
  • Divorce
  • Marriage separation
  • Imprisonment
  • Death of a close family member
  • Injury or illness
  • Marriage
  • Job loss
  • Marriage reconciliation
  • Retirement

Even if you have not experienced any of these, or are feeling overly happy, sad, angry, excited or sad, drivers can suffer from impairments that drastically reduce their safety on the road.

During #NationalStressAwarenessMonth that coincides with #DistractedDrivingAwarenessMonth, here are some tips on how to beat emotional stress that might render you a driving hazard:

1) Look after yourself physically
Stress raises your cortisol levels which have a big impact on your physical well-being as well as your emotional state. It’s important to remember to look after yourself in all the usual ways: getting enough sleep, eating well and taking regular exercise.

2) Learn to stop worrying
You can learn to recognize and treat rising feelings of anxiety. Some people get back aches when they are over-stressed, in others stress might manifest itself as pain in other parts of the body – these are signs that you are experiencing anxiety and body signals telling you to stop, recalculate and get going calmly down the right road again.

3) Challenge unhelpful thoughts
The way that we think about things has an impact on our mood, anxiety and stress levels. Many of these thoughts occur outside of our control and can be negative or unhelpful. It is therefore important to remember that they are just thoughts, without any real basis, and are not necessarily facts. Even though we may believe a lot of our unhelpful thoughts when we are feeling low, anxious or stressed, it is good to remember that they should be questioned, as they are often based on wrong assumptions.

Advocacy, car crashes, Collisions, Crashes and Collisions, Distracted Driving, driving behaviors, fatalities, Head-on Collisions, Hit and Run, Multi-Vehicle Crashes, NHTSA, Rear-End Crashes, Road Safety Research, Texting and Driving, traffic fatalities, Traffic Safety

Put Your Phone Away or Get Ready to Pay – U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

UText_Campaign_info

Distracted driving has become a national epidemic—endangering passengers, adjacent vehicle occupants, motorcyclists and bicyclists, and nearby pedestrians. Distracted driving involves a range of activities, from texting or talking on the cell phone to adjusting the radio station, applying makeup, eating, chatting with other passengers, smoking or taking a sip of your drink…. anything that can distract a driver from the essential task of safe driving.

Texting has become one of the most common, pervasive forms of distracted driving, and too many drivers are succumbing to this deadly habit, illegal in all states and the District of Columbia except Arizona, Montana, and Missouri. April is DISTRACTED DRIVING AWARENESS MONTH and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is partnering with state and local officials to step up enforcement and catch distracted drivers.  From April 11 to April 15, the U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign will in full force as a national high-visibility effort to enforce distracted-driving laws. Consider the frightening statistics behind this dangerous trend:

• Between 2012-2017, nearly 20,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver.
• According to NHTSA, there were 3,166 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2017. While this reflects a 9 percent decrease from 2016 to 2017, there is still much work to be done. In the last six years, 9.5 percent of all fatal crashes involved a distracted driver.
• Texting while driving has become an especially problematic trend among younger drivers. In fact, in 2017, 8 percent of people killed in teen (15-19) driving crashes died when the teen drivers were distracted at the times of the crashes.
• According to NHTSA, young drivers 16- to 24-years-old have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007.
• Female drivers with a cell phone have been more likely to be involved in fatal distracted driving crashes as compared to male drivers every year since 2012.
Safety Tips for Driving
• If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.
• Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
• Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving. Cell phone use can be habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Put the cell phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.
Put Your Phone Away or Get Ready to Pay
• When you get behind the wheel, be an example to your family and friends by putting your phone away. Texting and driving isn’t trendy “normal” behavior—it’s a selfish, deadly and, oftentimes, illegal activity that could kill you, a loved one, a friend, or a stranger.
• In 47 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, texting while driving is an illegal, ticketable offense. You could end up paying a hefty fine, and could get points on your license.
• If you see something, say something. If your friends text while driving, tell them to stop. Listen to your passengers: If they catch you texting while driving and tell you to put your phone away, put it down.

Remember, when you get behind the wheel, put your phone away and don’t get caught in the U Drive. U Text. U Pay. dragnet focused on making our roads safer for all.
For more information, visit http://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.

____________________________________________

Source:  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation

Advocacy, car crashes, Collisions, Crashes and Collisions, Distracted Driving, driving behaviors, fatalities, Property Damage, Rear-End Crashes, Road Safety Research, teen drivers, traffic fatalities, Traffic Safety

Distracted Driving Deaths Have No Regard for Age

distracted_driving_monthDistracted Driving Awareness Month is a united effort among government agencies, public safety organizations and driver improvement enterprises to recognize the dangers of and eliminate preventable deaths from distracted driving.
Distracted Driving among Teens: How Can We Educate and Protect
Our Youth?“cited 3,000 teen deaths occur every year from texting and driving nationwide,  in addition to 300,000 injuries per year resulting from crashes involving texting while driving.  In fact, car crashes are the leading cause of death in drivers ages 16-19. Anything that causes a driver to take his or her focus off the tasks of driving  is a distraction.

THREE LETHAL DISTRACTIONS

Visual distraction –  taking your eyes are off the road, even for a few seconds
Manual distraction –  taking your hands are off the wheel
Cognitive distraction –  focusing on something other than driving

3_distractions

Texting while driving is a combination of all three of distractions. For a visualization of how far you can travel in five seconds, think the length of a football field – that’s a long distance to cover when you aren’t looking where you’re going.

Forty-seven states and Washington, D.C. have made texting while driving illegal. Besides avoiding a hefty fine, some as high as $500, resisting the urge to text can save lives. Even using a hands-free device is distracting for the driver, as it still limits a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle properly.  In the 2017 volume of Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, the “Mobile phone use while driving” literary review found 60 studies on mobile phone use, concluding that hands-free mobile phones do not provide greater safety than hand-held mobile phones. Additionally, the review identified four phases in the process of understanding the impacts of mobile phone while driving  including evidence that conversations with the driver are also deterrents to safe driving.  Much of the research points to the fact that it is equally important to have your mind free of distractions while driving.

To avoid distracted driving:

  • Set your phone or app to “driving” mode. This will automatically respond with a message while you’re driving.
  • Be mindful of when you contact your friends and family – don’t text or call someone if you know they are or could be driving.
  • Pull off to the side of the road if a cellphone must be handled (absolutely must respond to a text, GPS navigation tasks, etc.).

 

car crashes, Collisions, Crashes and Collisions, Distracted Driving, driving behaviors, Head-on Collisions, Hit and Run, NHTSA, Rear-End Crashes

No Fooling – April is Distracted Driving Month!

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving. Texting is the most alarming distraction.     NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMIN

Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there were 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes on U.S. roadways during 2017.  Of these, 3,166 people were killed by distracted driving. Driving is the most complex activity the vast majority of Americans will engage in during any given day. A driver must know 1,500 separate skills to drive a car properly – you simply cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

It has been estimated by some researchers that for every mile that a vehicle travels, a driver will on average make 20 separate control decisions related to arriving at their destination.  It makes sense that the faster you go, the quicker you have to make driving decisions or completely overlook a critical decision entirely. Impaired drivers tend to make poor or no decisions while their car is in motion. In 35% of all fatal crashes, the driver took no action at all to avoid the collision prior to impact. You really don’t want to answer a cell phone at the same time you are driving, let alone when you have been drinking, taking any type of drugs – illicit, prescription or over-the-counter – or smoking marijuana. A mild- to moderately-intoxicated driver can easily become overwhelmed just driving, without any other distractions. Now add a cell phone and the attention one must pay to the conversation going on, especially distracting when emotions are involved and you got trouble!

The NHTSA found texting to be the most dangerous and alarming distraction on the road. Their research found that reading a text while driving at 55 miles per hour takes one’s eyes off the road the equivalent amount of time as driving across a football field blindfolded. Texting and driving absorb a driver’s visual, manual, and cognitive attention – creating the deadliest type of distraction on the road. Consider these sobering statistics:

  • Around 660,000 drivers use their cell phones while driving during daylight hours.
  • Texting and driving are six times more likely to cause an accident than drunk driving. Between 2012-2017, nearly 20,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver.
  • Texting while driving has become an especially problematic trend among younger drivers. In fact, in 2017, 8% percent of people killed in teen (15-19) driving crashes died when the teen drivers were distracted at the times of the crashes. Young drivers 16- to 24-years-old have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007. Every day, 11 teenagers die from texting and driving accidents.
  • Female drivers with a cell phone have been more likely to be involved in fatal distracted driving crashes as compared to male drivers every year since 2012.
  • Texting and driving increase the risk of an accident by about 23 times.
  • Cell phone use is behind only drivers “being lost in thought” in causing the most distracted driving accidents.
  • About 25% of teenagers admit to answering texts once or more every time they drive.
  • Studies have proven that teens who text and drive veer out of their lanes around 10% of their total drive time.

On-the-job crashes cost employers more than $24,500 per crash, $150,000 per injury, and $3.6 million per fatality. And distracted driving caused by hand-held mobile device use is an emerging contributor to these accidents.  An AAA study found that using voice commands to send text messages and emails from behind the wheel, which is marketed as a safer alternative for drivers, actually more distracting and dangerous than simply talking on a cellphone.

Scientific studies have confirmed that even talking on a hands-free cell phone is just as distracting as holding one to your ear, suggesting it is the conversation that is distracting. Studies have also found that a conversation was more distracting to the driver if the passenger was under the age of 24.

Researchers found that individuals who listen to music over 95 decibels (very loud) causes the human brain’s reaction time to decrease by 25%.

Keep in mind that your response to a potential hazard on the road may just take you that much longer to react.

 

autonomous vehicles, Distracted Driving, LIDAR technology for autonomous vehicles, Self-Driving Cars, Uncategorized

Should Uber blame its driver for the first autonomous vehicle-caused fatal pedestrian incident or is the technology flawed?

A video published by police yesterday raises some serious questions about Uber’s driverless-car technology.

UBER_fatal_pedestrian_crash
Tempe police released the video of the UBER self-driving car at the time of the fatal pedestrian crash

This video, released by the Tempe, Arizona, Police Department, shows what happened moments before one of Uber’s autonomous cars killed a pedestrian. The driver was recorded by a camera inside the car, looking down for several seconds.  She looks up at the last moment to see someone walking into the car’s path.

Was #DistractedDriving to blame? Experts have long warned that partial autonomy lulls people into a false sense of security, causing them to become dangerously disengaged. Situational awareness (SA) in driving is compromised with distractions. SA means a driver is aware of his or her surroundings and comprehends the variables in situations that are constantly changing. It can take many seconds for a person to regain situational awareness if something goes wrong – not enough time to prevent a disaster from happening, such as the case of the Uber fatal pedestrian crash.

LIDAR—Light Detection and Ranging – is the technology utilized by autonomous vehicles to measure distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3-D representations of a target. Investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board are tasked with investigating the sensors aboard the Uber self-driving car that failed to spot the pedestrian, who was wheeling her bike across the road.

The scary thought about this incident is that companies rushing to commercialize vehicle automation are already testing experimental systems on public roads – at least 52 companies have permits to test out self-driving cars California alone. Uber has been testing autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Toronto and the greater Phoenix area for months. Waymo has testing locations in Atlanta, Detroit and Austin. Arizona is also the home for multipe testing sites, including Chandler, Gilbert, Guadalupe, Phoenix, Mesa and Tempe. California testing sites include Carmel, Daly City, Half Moon Bay, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Merced, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Sunnyvale, Tiburon and Truckee. Lyft has a driverless pilot program in Boston and offered driverless rides around the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Cruise Automation driverless cars are on the road in California, Arizona, and Michigan. In 2015, Daimler’s Self Driving Truck became the world’s first licensed autonomous freightliner in Nevada.

Is self-driving vehicle technology moving too quickly for the public’s good? Post your comments.

Distracted Driving, Uncategorized

#JustDrive kicks off distracted driving month

justdrive_$20
JustDrive.com offers a host of information about the risks and dangers of talking or texting behind the wheel and other forms of distracted driving.

What is the best way to save $200? Ask the New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission, and they’ll tell you…… the fines for talking or texting on a handheld device have increased to $200 for the first offense and $400 for the second offense. Fines for the third offense are a minimum of $600 plus a possible 90-day suspension of driver’s license and three (3) motor vehicle penalty points. Don’t talk or text while you drive, and you are sure to save at least $200 – clever!

As we kick off the month of April, we will be exploring the campaigns taking place across the country to help avoid crashes and collisions caused by #DistractedDriving, beginning with our friends from the Garden State. Watch the videos, read the stories and consider the tips and take the pledge offered online at http://justdrive.com/.

Distracted Driving, Uncategorized

#DistractedDriving kills and injures thousands of people each year.

Safe driving requires that a driver master 1500 tasks. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing. That includes hi-viz billboards, talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, looking for a radio station, setting a navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

 

famouslastwords
Anna, such an eager little girl……

 

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration provides tips on how we can all play a part in the fight to save lives by ending distracted driving:

TEENS

Teens can be the best messengers with their peers, so we encourage them to speak up when they see a friend driving while distracted, to have their friends sign a pledge to never drive distracted, to become involved in their local Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter, and to share messages on social media that remind their friends, family, and neighbors not to make the deadly choice to drive distracted.

PARENTS

Parents first have to lead by example—by never driving distracted—as well as have a talk with their young driver about distraction and all of the responsibilities that come with driving. Have everyone in the family sign the pledge to commit to distraction-free driving. Remind your teen driver that in States with graduated driver licensing (GDL), a violation of distracted-driving laws could mean a delayed or suspended license.

EDUCATORS AND EMPLOYERS

Educators and employers can play a part, too. Spread the word at your school or workplace about the dangers of distracted driving. Ask your students to commit to distraction-free driving or set a company policy on distracted driving.

Driver Improvements joins efforts to make our voices heard. Tomorrow, #DistractedDriving Prevention Month begins. If you feel strongly about distracted driving, be a voice in your community by supporting local laws, speaking out at community meetings, and highlighting the dangers of distracted driving on social media and in your local op-ed pages.

 

Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

 

Distracted Driving, Texting and Driving

Effects of texting on driving are actually worse for older drivers

cusoongtg

Teenagers use text messaging more than any other mode of communication. In an article published by the American Psychological Association, “The Role of Compulsive Texting in Adolescents’ Academic Functioning“, the authors found that many teenage texters had a lot in common with compulsive gamblers, including losing sleep because of texting, problems cutting back on texting and lying to cover up the amount of time they spent texting. Compulsivity is more than just the number of texts, and lead author Kelly M. Lister-Landman from the Delaware County Community College poses vexing questions….. What is a teen’s relationship with phone use where they might feel anxiety when withdrawing from its use?  Do they feel compelled to look at it at all times, rather than just answering texts they get?

A different study from Wayne State University shows that texting and driving can be even more dangerous for older and experienced drivers. “The effects of texting on driving performance and the influence of driver age” demonstrates that for highly skilled texters, the effects of texting on driving are actually worse for older drivers. The study was conducted with a group of 50 people between 18 and 59 years old who were in driving simulators and answered simple text messages researchers sent to their phones. Half of the subjects were highly-skilled texters — people who said they texted a lot, could text one-handed and owned smartphones — who veered into other lanes in the simulator when reading or sending texts. The older, prolific texters did especially bad: all of the 45- to 59-year-olds and 80 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds veered into other lanes. Meanwhile, about 40 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds and about 25 percent of 18- to 24- year-olds began crossing lanes while texting. The study confirmed what researchers have stated, that there is something unique to the distraction of texting that makes older and more mature drivers worse at it, but they are not sure why this age difference exists. Perhaps older drivers take more and longer glances at their phones when composing and reading messages; maybe older drivers can’t manage technological multitasking in the same way as young people who were born and raised in the age of technology. It could also be a combination of these and other factors.

According to the Pew Research Center, some 73% of adult cell owners use the text messaging function on their phone at least occasionally. Young adults are the most active users of text messaging, with 95% of 18-29 year olds using the text messaging feature on their phones. These users send or receive an average of 87.7 text messages on a normal day (with the median user in this age group sending or receiving 40 text messages per day).

Given the increasing frequency of texting while driving within virtually all age groups, these data suggest that ‘no texting while driving’ education and public service messages need to be continued, and they should be expanded to target older drivers as well.