Motoring gadgets help boost driver safety

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Research by Loughborough University has shown that motoring gadgets, such as satellite navigation systems, bring positive changes to drivers’ behaviour, making them feel safer and be more fuel efficient.

The €15 million international TeleFOT – Field Operational Tests of Aftermarket and Nomadic Devices in Vehicles – study was one of the biggest traffic ICT projects in Europe.  Driver support services tested included static and dynamic navigation systems, green driving support, speed limit information and traffic information.

The unique data gathered for the project reveals that these systems allow drivers to find quicker and less congested routes and prevent them from speeding accidentally.  They help reduce fuel costs and driving-related stress and anxiety, with an increase in the drivers’ sense of safety and comfort.  The study also found that, on the whole, the use of such motoring gadgets does not distract drivers.

More than 3,000 motorists took part in the study, covering a combined distance of more than 10 million kilometres in eight European countries – the UK, Finland, Sweden, Germany, France, Greece, Italy and Spain.

The project’s Field Operational Tests involved comprehensive assessments of driver behaviour and the efficiency, quality, robustness and user-friendliness of interactive in-vehicle traffic systems and services.  The driver support services tested included static and dynamic navigation support, green driving support, speed limit information and traffic information.

Data from the UK tests was gathered by the world-leading Transport Safety Research Centre based in the University’s Design School.  The Loughborough team also managed the data analysis from all countries that took part in the study and were responsible for several research innovations during the course of the project, including pioneering work on eye-tracking, visual behaviour and driver distraction.

Speaking about the study Dr Andrew Morris, who led Loughborough’s involvement in the project said: “This research has provided a unique and comprehensive insight into how motorists interact with a range of commonly-available driver support functions.  Throughout all the countries involved in the study, the results showed a positive change in driver behaviour, in particular making them less likely to speed and to drive more fuel efficiently.”

The TeleFOT study was coordinated by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.


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