Pedestrian crossing situations: Quantification of comfort boundaries to guide intervention timing
Journal article, 2014
Introduction: Technical systems that warn or brake for vehicle-pedestrian encounters reduce injuries more effectively the earlier an intervention is initiated. However, premature intervention can irritate drivers, leading to system deactivation and, consequently, no injury reduction whatsoever. It has been proposed that no intervention should be initiated as long as attentive drivers are within their comfort zones. This study aims at quantifying driver comfort boundaries for pedestrian crossing situations to offer guidance for the appropriate timing of interventions. Methods: Sixty two volunteers drove through an intersection on a test track at 30 and 50 km/h. A pedestrian dummy was launched from behind an obstruction towards the driving path of the approaching car. Brake onset indicated discomfort. Time to collision (TTC), longitudinal and lateral distance were measured at brake onset. Results: TTC was independent of driving speed ranging from 2.1 to 4.3 s with a median of 3.2 s. Longitudinal distance ranged from 19 to 48 meters with an apparent difference between driving speeds. Lateral distances differed slightly, but significantly between driving speeds. The median was 3.1 m (3.2 m for 30 km/h and 2.9 m for 50 km/h) and values ranged from 1.9 to 4.1 m. Lateral distance in seconds ranged from 1.9 to 4.3 s with a median value of 3.1s (3.2 s for 30 km/h and 3.0 s for 50 km/h). Discussion: TTC was independent of driving speed, trial order and volunteer age. It might be considered suitable to intervene in situations where, for example, 90% of drivers have exceeded their comfort boundary, i.e. when drivers have already initiated braking. This percentile value translates to intervention at a TTC of 2.5 s (95% confidence 2.4-2.7 s). The study was limited to Swedish nationals, fully aware drivers, and two driving speeds, but did not investigate behavioural changes due to system interaction. Conclusion: This study showed that TTC at brake onset was a suitable measure for the quantification of driver comfort boundaries in pedestrian crossing situations. All drivers applied their brakes prior to 2.1 s TTC.
Brake reaction time
Forward collision warning