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Driving is the coordinated operation of mind and body for the movement of a vehicle, such as a car, truck, or bus. Driving, being considered as an everyday activity for most people still has an issue of driver safety. Over the 20 years from 1980 to 2000, the number of licensed drivers in the U.S. has increased 23.7%, from about 154.0 million to 190.6 million. Total annual mileage traveled annually in the U.S. increased 28.9% from 1990 to 2000 and reached 2,767 billion miles in 2000 . Over the years, we have seen emerging technology for safer driving. Electronic stability control, collision avoidance systems, intelligent speed adaptation, and vehicle tracking systems can all help mitigate the threats to drivers . Great improvements have been introduced to many aspects of modern cars, from better engines and chassis construction to higher vehicle stability, better wheels and tires, and better overall crash protection. Unfortunately, the total number of fatal crashes is still increasing despite the safety improvements in road and vehicle design. Mo-tor vehicle-related fatalities increased from 33,186 in 1950 to 42,387 in 2000 . One could argue that the increase in fatalities could be attributed to the increase in the number of cars on the road, resulting in a normal correlation. Nonetheless, the problem seems to be more complex than just a correlation. In this paper, we analyze the threats to driver safety and the growth of speech recognition with respect to the automotive domain. In addition, we propose a solution to minimize driver distraction by introducing multimodal interaction and comparing the command hit rate when using single-mode speech inter-action and dual-mode speech with text tip.
Driver distraction, in simple words, is anything that allows the driver to take hands off the steering wheel or eyes off the road or the mind unfocused . This approach is generic and needs to be looked at in more detail. One of the main challenges in driving is the coordination between body and mind on one side, and the car controls as well as the road dynamics on the other side. This makes the true understanding of driver distraction. If we consider the difference between novice and expert drivers, we can identify the level of coordination between them as low (for novice drivers) versus high (for the expert drivers). Figure 1 shows four main phases that a typical driver would go through:
How it works
Figure 1.The Four Phases of Driving Coordination Improvement
At the very beginning of learning how to drive, the driver will go through a very low level of coordination. The driver will have a hard time trying to coordinate their physical activities between managing the gas, breaks, steering, car movements as well as other car controls. No attention would be paid to additional control or even the road. Drivers would often start this phase in an empty space not shared with other drivers until they gain basic coordination to move to the next phase.
In this phase, the driver will gradually gain better basic coordination and start paying some attention to the car movements. In this phase, drivers would be able to focus on road signs as well as other drivers. Eventually, drivers will be able to reach a sufficient level of coordination to pass a driver’s test and obtain their driving license.
At this stage, drivers would be allowed to drive on public roads alone or initially with a mentor. This stage will see progressive coordination and more attention to the road and other vehicles as well as road signs. This phase can extend to a longer time interval than the first two phases and will be mainly for the driver to establish a strong driving experience.
This phase moves the driver into an expert. While the borderlines between the first 3 phases can be general defined in concrete terms, the borderlines between phases 3 and 4 are blurry at best. Over several months or years, the driver becomes an accomplished driver and reaches a high level of experience. This experience relied heavily on the perfection of coordination between the driver’s physical activities and the road dynamics. Physical coordination eventually becomes second nature to the driver due to its complete predictive and systematic nature; very similar to walking. While toddler’s first attempts to walk seem daunting tasks, we eventually walk without thinking as our brains automate the process. On the contrary, the second type of coordination, the attention to road dynamics remains a major challenge due to its non-systematic and unpredictable nature. Roads and other drivers are continuously changing and often have an exception or a surprise once in a while. Therefore, unlike physical coordination, the mental coordination stemming from the focus on the road and driving dynamics remains unautomated. This type of mental coordination is probably the main reason for driver distraction and a major contributor to automobile accidents.
Unfocused driving can be due to fatigue, aging, alcohol, or distraction. According to a study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes involve some form of driver distraction . Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has launched a variety of creative campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving such as “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” . In fact, we can identify two main groups of contradicting factors. Our initial analysis shows these two distinct groups of risk factors will possibly have an opposing effect on the number of accidents.
The net effect remains to be known or even clearly identifiable:
• Increased Crash Safety Awareness: The crash safety and driver protection mechanisms have increased. Today’s car is significantly stronger with a special focus on strengthening the passenger’s zone as well as introducing impact ab-sorption zones and several airbags surrounding the occupants to reduce crash injuries and fatalities. Tougher crash tests are becoming more common, and the safety star ratings of most cars today are made available to the public, which motivates car manufacturers to constantly improve their designs for better crashworthiness.
• Better Road Designs are getting better with higher road quality, better traffic signs and signals. Statistical analysis and feedback from re-peated accidents is used to pay more attention to those “hot locations” and special measures are taken to proactively reduce some location-related accidents.
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