21 March 2014

Volvo focusing on 'attentive driving'

#driverdistraction. Volvo has developed a 'driver feedback system' that will trigger a warning whenever a driver's eyes are more than 2.4 seconds off the road, or when glances away from the road are happening too often, writes Brian Byrne.

The system has been fully researched, but is not yet on the market, the company's Dr Claudia Wege told yesterday's Driver Distraction road safety conference in Dublin.

"We have found that when that alert system is used, it increases by 37 percent the time that eyes are kept on the road," she told the audience at the conference, which was organised in Dublin Castle by the Road Safety Authority.

Dr Wege said the 'reality' is that truck drivers are always online, and do have to take messages relating to their work as they travel. Therefore Volvo's focus was now on promoting 'Attentive Driving' in addition to trying to better understand driver distraction issues.

She gave the DOIT safety systems developed for factories as an example of how to improve safety for drivers, noting that the implementation of these systems had reduced by 70 percent the accident rates in factories.

DOIT is an acronym for Define behaviour, Observe behaviour, Intervene to improve behaviour, and Test effectiveness of the interventions.

To this, Volvo has added its own acronym, BEST, which stands for Behavioural checkups, Education of drivers, Safety benefit analysis, and Training. "We have translated the DOIT Feedback system to the automotive domain, to include driver feedback comparisons over different periods, and regular 'back office' discussions on performance."

As part of this process, Volvo has developed an app to monitor and accumulate information on a driver's safety performance. Dr Wege added that while it was important that the automotive industry develops systems for improving attentive driving, the phone makers have a duty to do the same.

She impressed on the audience that education of drivers towards attentive driving was really important. "But driver education in the area of distraction is hugely underdeveloped,