The final report from a long-term European joint research project confirms that recently-introduced vehicle technologies do help drivers avoid incidents and collisions in real-world service and provide significant safety benefits.
A car with adaptive cruise control and collision warning, for example, cuts the risk of colliding with the vehicle in front on an expressway by up to 42%.
The large-scale European Field Operational Test on Active Safety Systems (EuroFOT) is a research project supported by European funds. It involves 28 organizations, including Swedish participants Volvo Car Corporation, Volvo Trucks and Chalmers University of Technology.
100 Volvo V70 and XC70 models with a total of 263 drivers participated in EuroFOT. All cars were fitted with cameras and sensors that registered every second of every journey for 18 months, which meant that every little incident and situation could be studied and evaluated.
These cars supplied Volvo Car Corporation's safety experts with 30 terrabytes of data from 3 million kilometres of driving. The final report from EuroFOT also includes material from other vehicle manufacturers.
Analysis of five technologies
Analysis of the Volvos used in EuroFOT focused on five technological solutions:
- ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) maintains a preset gap to the vehicle in front.
- CW (Collision Warning) alerts the driver if a collision of colliding with the vehicle in front is imminent. At the same time, the brakes are prepared for firm braking.
- BLIS (Blind Sport Information System) alerts the driver to vehicles in the blind spots on both sides of the car.
- LDW (Lane Departure Warning) warns the driver if the vehicle accidently strays across any of the lane markings.
- DAC (Driver Alert Control) is designed to detect and warn if the driver is tired or distracted.
Increased safety with cruise control and collision warning
The final report from EuroFOT clearly shows that adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning enhance traffic safety. The benefits are greatest on an expressway, where the risk of driving into the vehicle in front is cut by up to 42%.
Adaptive Cruise Control was used on expressways for more than 51% of the total distance covered – which confirms that the system is appreciated by drivers. And 80% of them feel that progress on the road is more comfortable and convenient. A massive 94% feel safer with the system activated.
When it comes to collision warning, 70% of the drivers feel that it improves the level of safety. One participant in the study, said: "Thanks to the warning system, a couple of times I managed to avoid being involved in an accident when the vehicles in front suddenly slammed on their brakes".
Positive trend for other technologies
As regards the other warning systems, which focus on tired drivers, lane keeping and vehicles in the blind spot, the trend is also positive. However, there is not yet enough data to provide statistically significant forecasts of the accident risk reduction.
"This is because the number of incidents is relatively small. The emergency situations we have identified and examined, however, reveal that drivers do note and respond to the alerts. In tiredness incidents that led to alerts, the driver recovered control over the vehicle before the situation became serious," says John-Fredrik Grönvall, Manager Traffic Accident Research at Volvo Car Corporation.
EuroFOT participants confirm that the Driver Alert Control actually works. One of them commented: "I was exhausted after a hectic workday that stretched into late evening. I'm really glad the system alerted me in time."
Valuable contribution to the development of safer cars
"Both the comprehensive studies of driver behaviour and the wide range of comments from the drivers involved are very valuable in our research. We design our cars in response to customer wishes and needs. The results from EuroFOT help us develop new, user-friendly and effective technologies that bring us closer to our goal of no injuries or fatalities in a new Volvo car in 2020," says Peter Mertens.
More information is available at EuroFOT