Driver support systems are designed to monitor the driving environment and influence the drivers’ actions. In some cases, they can intervene to modify the driving task. These systems actively help drivers to control the vehicle. They can warn drivers about imminent risky situations or manoeuvres (conscious or unintentional) – or physically prevent them from driving dangerously (such as, exceeding a safe speed limit).
Driver support systems can be deployed in a variety of ways, including:
The decreasing cost of in-vehicle technology and the proliferation of smartphones has significantly broadened the availability and diversity of driver support systems. They fall into two groups:
Advisory systems are intended to assist drivers to complete their journeys safely and efficiently – by preventing problems from occurring and helping drivers to make informed decisions along the way.
Warning and control systems can provide alerts to improve driver behaviour (for example, to encourage eco-driving or to counter driver tiredness) or take action to make the driving task easier. More advanced systems may take partial or full control of the vehicle in safety-critical situations where the driver response is not sufficient to avoid an accident – or to assist with a routine driving task, such as parking.
Automotive manufacturers have steadily been incorporating sensors and systems that help the driver to monitor the driving environment – for example, to detect lane-keeping or the presence of other vehicles and pedestrians. Methods of communicating data between vehicles and with the infrastructure (“V2X” data) are also being established. (See Connected Vehicles)
Recent developments include:
From a road operator’s perspective, these types of systems present both opportunities and challenges. Widespread deployment could reduce overall accident rates and improve the safety and efficiency of travel. Automated driving represents a fundamental change to road transport operations – but the full implications have not yet been assessed. (See PIARC Report: The Connected Vehicle)