In 2009, researchers at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) discovered that electronic billboards attract and hold drivers’ gazes longer than a threshold that previous studies have shown to be dangerous (i.e. over 2 seconds). Currently, VTI is ready to start a study with a similar purpose applied to the ecoDriver project. The question to be answered is: Are drivers attentive enough to traffic while driving with the ecoDriver system on?
For this purpose, they have selected 12 test drivers living in the Linköping area of south-eastern Sweden, who own a car the same as the one used by the researchers to implement the full ecoDriver system (FeDS). The vehicle is a Volvo V70, a traditional diesel car with manual gearbox, equipped with the FeDS and an eye-tracking system that will allow the researchers to monitor online, in real time, where the driver is looking, and for how long.
From the potential drivers interested in being part of the study, found and contacted thanks to the openness of the Swedish Register of car owners, the researchers preferred experienced drivers, available to take nine test drives this autumn. A requirement was that the test drivers do not wear glasses while driving, as these can interfere with the eye-tracker.
VTI has a fixed text route that consists of motorway, urban and rural roads. As the traffic volume in Sweden is low to medium, the drivers will not often influenced by other vehicles in their speed choice. This will facilitate the analysis of the effects of the ecoDriver system.
As a part of our trip to film the ecoDriver system in different test sites, we visited VTI’s headquarters in Linköping to learn more about their role in the project, and the reasons behind their focus on the safety, rather than on the environmental side of this project.
Selection of pictures and quotes
Katja Kircher (Researcher at VTI)
“In our analysis we are going to check for how often and how long people look at the ecoDriver system in different traffic situations. And also because the system may alert the driver of certain things by beeping, we want to make sure that this beep does not attract glances immediately. You have to check first if it is OK to look away from traffic”
Jonas Ihlström (Researcher Assistant at VTI)
“Here at VTI we are testing on different roads: highways as well as rural roads and city traffic. Our intention is to run the experiment with the test persons this autumn and then start some rather extensive analysis. We look forward with excitement to see the results!”