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13 June 2006 PR 06/66

Collision course drivers respond to in-car alarms

In-car alarms that warn drivers of an imminent collision are being installed in new cars for the first time – with the help of research by car safety experts at Loughborough University.

The in-car alarm is activated by the possibility of a crash – for instance, if the car in front stops suddenly – telling the driver that s/he needs to brake.

Experts at Loughborough’s Ergonomics and Safety Research Institute (ESRI) have been looking at drivers’ reactions to different alarm systems, to determine which make driving safest.

John Richardson, of ESRI, said: “We do lots of work relating to car safety, although it usually involves looking at the structure of the vehicle. In this case, we were looking at driver behaviour and how this new alarm system will work to make vehicles safer.

“The idea is to make a system that people trust and want to use.”

Researchers looked at drivers’ responses when faced with early warning alarms, just-in-time alarms and unreliable alarms. They also looked at how drivers’ behaviour was affected by the speed of the car in front.

Overall, drivers responded better to early alarms. Trust in these alarms stayed high even if the system occasionally gave ‘false’ alarms.

ENDS

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Notes to editors:

Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough equal first among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

In 2006 Loughborough celebrates the 40th anniversary of its University Charter, awarded on 19 April 1966 in recognition of the excellence achieved by Loughborough College of Advanced Technology and its predecessor Colleges. Loughborough University of Technology was renamed Loughborough University in 1996.

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