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Research shows connected talking cars could save lives

Researchers from the University of Melbourne focused on understanding cooperative intelligent transport system technologies that would help drivers in eight main ways.

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Traffic micro-simulation experiments were conducted in Melbourne’s arterial corridors
Traffic micro-simulation experiments were conducted in Melbourne’s arterial corridors

Connected ‘talking’ cars that can intelligently interpret their surroundings and alert drivers to potential hazards could reduce vehicle crashes by almost four-fifths (78 per cent), new research reveals.

 

The eight-month project led by the University of Melbourne involved a comprehensive analysis of Victorian traffic accident data from 2006-2019 and state-of-the-art traffic micro-simulation studies from within the Australian Integrated Multimodal Ecosystem (AIMES).

 

The research was funded by the iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre, University of Melbourne, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, and ITS Australia with support from IAG, Intelematics and Transmax.

 

Collision avoidance

 

Researchers focused on understanding cooperative intelligent transport system (C-ITS) technologies that would help drivers in eight main ways including: lane guidance; curve speed; collision avoidance; do not pass and blind spot warnings; intersection movement and right turn assistance; plus pedestrian safety messages.

 

“Our analysis of Victorian road safety data shows that with eight significant connected safety focuses, we have the ability to reduce the incidence of crashes by up to 78 per cent and make vehicle transport safer for all road users,” said Professor Majid Sarvi, lead of transport technologies at the University of Melbourne.

 

The team of researchers found that curve speed warnings could have the most significant impact in rural areas. More than half of all fatal accidents (52 per cent) occurred in rural Victoria, compared to 37 per cent of all fatal crashes occurring in urban areas of Melbourne.

“With eight significant connected safety focuses, we have the ability to reduce the incidence of crashes by up to 78 per cent and make vehicle transport safer for all road users”

Motorcyclists stand to derive the most benefit from curve warnings, as curve speed was a factor in 17 per cent of crashes involving motorbikes, data shows.

 

Data from the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (Ancap) included as part of the overall study shows the oldest vehicles (built in 2001 or earlier) on Australian roads accounted for just one fifth of the total national vehicle fleet but were over-represented in fatal crash data.

 

The study found one in five cars on Victorian roads are considered older, but they are involved in more than a third (36 per cent) vehicles (built between 2012-2017) make up 31 per cent of road vehicles but are involved in just 12 per cent of fatal crashes.

 

The rate of fatal crashes per registered vehicle for oldest vehicles was four times higher than that of newer vehicles.

 

Traffic micro-simulation experiments were conducted in Melbourne’s arterial corridors within AIMES. Researchers concluded that if just 30 per cent of all vehicles on the roads during peak hour were connected vehicles, traffic congestion could be driven down by up to 11 per cent.

“Making the adoption of C-ITS a national priority will bring major social and economic benefits, and lead to greater transport efficiency and, most importantly, increased safety”

A separate network micro-simulation in Melbourne’s CBD during peak hour (pre-Covid-19) found that average travel speeds could improve by up to 10 per cent if a fifth of cars were connected vehicles.

 

The research team’s interviews with industry stakeholders revealed common challenges across the transport sector. These include driver fatigue for fleet operations, rail crossing safety, cross traffic, overhead bridge heights and extreme weather events.

 

Stakeholders broadly agreed that significant standardisation and regulation is needed, along with a unified national approach toward C-ITS communications adoption.

 

Safety enhancing technologies

 

It is estimated to take anywhere from a few years to a few decades for safety enhancing technologies to be commonplace in vehicles, hinging on broad support from government and car manufacturers.

 

“C-ITS is a technology whose time has arrived, and based on research not only by our research partners in Australia but all around the world we know lives will be saved if this technology is implemented widely,” added Ian Christensen, managing director, iMove.

 

“Making the adoption of C-ITS a national priority will bring major social and economic benefits, and lead to greater transport efficiency and, most importantly, increased safety.”

 

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