Recognising safety critical events in real traffic: Can automatic video processing be used to improve naturalistic data analyses?
Journal article, 2013
New trends in research on traffic accidents include Naturalistic Driving Studies (NDS). NDS are based on large scale data collection of driver, vehicle, and environment information in real traffic. NDS datasets have proven to be extremely valuable for the analysis of safety critical events such as crashes and near crashes. However, finding safety critical events in NDS data is often difficult and time consuming. Safety critical events are currently identified using kinematic triggers, e.g. searching for deceleration below a certain threshold signifying harsh braking. Due to the low sensitivity and specificity of this filtering procedure, manual review of video data is currently necessary to decide whether the events identified by the triggers are actually safety critical. Such reviewing procedure is based on subjective decisions, is expensive and time consuming, and often tedious for the analysts. Furthermore, since NDS data is exponentially growing over time, this reviewing procedure may not be viable anymore in the very near future.
This study tested the hypothesis that automatic processing of driver video information could increase the correct classification of safety critical events from kinematic triggers in naturalistic driving data. Review of about 400 video sequences recorded from the events collected by 100 Volvo cars in the euroFOT project, suggested that driver’s individual reaction may be the key to recognize safety critical events. In fact, whether an event is safety critical or not often depends on the individual driver. A few algorithms, able to automatically classify driver reaction from video data, have been compared. The results presented in this paper show that the state of the art subjective review procedures to identify safety critical events from NDS can benefit from automated objective video analysis. In addition, this paper discusses the major challenges in making such a video analysis viable for future NDS. As new NDS projects such as SHRP2 are now providing the equivalent of five years of one vehicle data each day, the development of new methods, such as the one proposed in this paper, which are able to shorten and simplify video analyses are necessary to make such analyses feasible and effective for the ongoing NDS.
Naturalistic data analysis