The safety potential of lane departure warning systems. A descriptive real-world study of fatal lane departure passenger car crashes in Sweden
Journal article, 2017
Objective: Lane departure crashes account for a significant proportion of passenger car occupant fatalities and serious injuries. Utilizing real-world data involving fatal passenger car crashes in Sweden, the characteristics of lane departure crashes were identified and the safety potential of lane departure warning (LDW) systems was quantified.Methods: The material consisted of 104 in-depth studies of fatal passenger car crashes in 2010. The crashes were classified as single-vehicle (n = 48), head-on (n = 52), and overtaking (n = 4) crashes. These crash types were identified as crashes that could have potentially involved lane departure. A case-by-case analysis was carried out and lane departure crashes were identified and characterized using police reports and information collected by crash investigators at the Swedish Transport Administration; for example, inspections and photographs of the crash sites and of the involved vehicles. Lane departure crashes were separated from crashes where loss of control occurred pre-lane departure. Furthermore, loss of control post-lane departures were identified. When studying the pre-stage of lane departure without prior loss of control, crashes were categorized as unintentional drifting, intentional lane change, or evasive maneuver. Using previously published effectiveness information, the potential for LDW systems to prevent crashes was estimated.Results: Of all crashes with passenger car occupant fatalities in Sweden in 2010, 46% (63/138) were found to relate to lane departure without prior loss of control. These crashes accounted for 61% (63/104) of all single-vehicle, head-on, and overtaking crashes. The remaining 41 crashes were due to loss of control pre-lane departure. Unintentional drifting accounted for 81% (51/63) of all lane departure crashes without prior loss of control, which corresponded to 37% (51/138) of all fatal passenger car occupant crashes. LDW systems were found to potentially prevent 33-38 of the 100 fatal head-on and single vehicle crashes. These crashes involved drifting and occurred on roads with visible lane markings, signed posted speed limits 70km/h, and without rumble strips on the corresponding lane departure side. The range of potentially prevented crashes (33-38) is due to the inclusion or exclusion of crashes involving excessive speeding.Conclusions: In this study, approximately half (51/100) of all head-on and single-vehicle crashes were identified as being a consequence of drifting, where LDW systems had the potential to prevent the majority (33-38) of these crashes. The typical lane departure crash without prior loss of control occurred on undivided roads in rural areas with signed posted speed limits 70km/h, where the center and side road markings were visible.