Approaches to Enhance Driver Situational Assessment Aids
Author(s)Jones, Eric; Hansman, R. John
Collision warning systems encounter a fundamental trade-off between providing the driver more time in which to respond and alerting the driver unnecessarily. The probability that a driver successfully avoids a hazard increases as the driver is provided more time and distance in which to identify the hazard and execute the most effective response. However, alerting the driver at earlier, more conservative thresholds increases the probability that the alerts are unnecessary, either because sensor error has falsely identified a hazard or because the environment has changed such that a hazard is no longer a threat. Frequent unnecessary alerts degrade alert effectiveness by reducing trust in the system. The human-factors issues pertaining to a forward collision warning system (FCWS) were analyzed using an Integrated Human-Centered Systems approach, from which two design features were proposed: multi-stage alerting, which alerts the driver at a conservative early threshold, in addition to a more serious late threshold; and directional alerting, which provides the driver information regarding the location of the hazard that prompted the alert activation. Alerting the driver earlier increases the probability of a successful response by conditioning the driver to respond more effectively if and when evasive action is necessary. Directional alerting decreases the amount of time required to identify the hazard, while promoting trust in the system by informing the driver of the cause of the alert activation. The proposed design features were incorporated into three FCWS configurations, and an experiment was conducted in which drivers were equipped with the systems and placed in situations in which a collision would occur if they did not respond. Drivers who were equipped with multi-stage and directional alerting were more effective at avoiding hazardous situations than drivers who were not provided early alerting. Drivers with early alerting tended to respond earlier and more consistently, which promoted more successful responses. Subjective feedback indicates that drivers experienced high levels of acceptance, confidence, and trust in multi-stage and directional alerting.