Nav: Home

Alarming old and young drivers

March 10, 2015

An in-car alarm that sounds when sensors on the vehicle detect an imminent crash could cut crash rates from 1 in 5 to 1 in 10 for drivers over the of 60 suffering tiredness on long journeys, according to a study published in the International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics.

Psychologist Carryl Baldwin of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, and colleagues there and at the Sentara Norfolk General Sleep Center, emphasize how fatigue poses a persistent threat to transportation safety. Alarms that sound when a vehicle senses an imminent collision or when a driver deviates from their lane have already been tested and shown to work with alert drivers. Baldwin and colleagues wanted to know whether an alarm would reduce the accident rate in older and younger drivers who were suffering from fatigue.

Two volunteer groups, one aged 18-29 years and the second 65-85 years were each split into two groups, four groups in all. They had each group of volunteer drivers take control of a car simulator for one and a half hours to induce driver fatigue and assessed this based on faltering lane discipline among the drivers. They were then tested to see how well they would respond when a single imminent collision event was simulated. Half the young drivers and half the older drivers were given an audible alarm when the collision was about to occur and the other half of each group, the controls had to try and avoid the collision with no auditory warning.

The team found that almost 18% of the drivers not given an auditory warning crashed in the simulated collision. However, only about 11% had a collision if the alarm was sounded. Auditory warnings were most effective in the older group with only one driver over the age of 60 being unable to avoid a collision despite hearing the alarm. Disappointingly, the team says, the auditory warning had little impact on crash rates in drivers under the age of 35. An additional finding, not reported in the paper for statistical reasons is that young female drivers also responded safely when the alarm sound but young males did not.

The team points out that average following distance and speed were fairly constant across the alarm and the control groups for each age range, although the over-60s tended to drive at a much greater following distance than the youngsters. Despite this, no auditory warnings meant even the older drivers, with presumably longer reaction times, than the younger drivers, had approximately the same collision rate.

The team suggests that an in-car collision alarm could be a useful safety device for vehicles. They also point out that the rate of fatigue-induced accidents in which drivers deviate from their lane or the road entirely might just as readily be reduced if alarms for those situations were part of such a safety device's repertoire too, although the simulations are yet to be done for that type of accident. They do warn that as with all vehicle safety features, they must also be assessed for over-reliance to avoid drivers becoming complacent and ignoring the signs of tiredness.

The team has more recently been testing drivers' reactions to different types of auditory and multimodal alarms.
-end-
Baldwin, C.L., May, J.F. and Parasuraman, R. (2014) 'Auditory forward collision warnings reduce crashes associated with task-induced fatigue in young and older drivers', Int. J. Human Factors and Ergonomics, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.107-121.

Inderscience Publishers

Related Auditory Articles:

Olfactory and auditory stimuli change the perception of our body
A pioneering investigation developed by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) alongside the University of Sussex and University College London, shows that olfactory stimuli combined with auditory stimuli can change our perception of our body.
New findings on human speech recognition at TU Dresden
Neuroscientists at TU Dresden were able to prove that speech recognition in humans begins in the sensory pathways from the ear to the cerebral cortex and not, as previously assumed, exclusively in the cerebral cortex itself.
Heart rate variation due to stress affects auditory attention
Study shows that brain activity related to auditory perception parallels heart rate, offering new perspectives for the treatment of attention and communication disorders.
How blindness shapes sound processing
Adults who lost their vision at an early age have more refined auditory cortex responses to simple sounds than sighted individuals, according to new neuroimaging research published in JNeurosci.
Researchers say auditory testing can identify children for autism screening
The authors note a strong connection between auditory dysfunction and autism, suggesting that hearing issues identified at birth can be a clue to monitor the child for autism.
More Auditory News and Auditory Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...