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Risk Detector

2011-08-09 13:57:35.707255+00 by ebradway 3 comments

It occurred to me that what we need in cars is a feedback mechanism for risk. Instead of a radar detector, which tells you where the cops may be, the risk detector would give you a snapshot of your current risk of having an accident. There could even be a second readout that gives your risk of having a fatal accident. There are four potential inputs (of increasing technical complexity):

  1. Your driving behavior. Some insurance companies are already tracking driver risk to modify premiums. A simple ODBII reader could tell things like: average speed, rate of acceleration (and deceleration), number of lane changes, frequency of left-hand turns.
  2. Your position overlaid on a map of risky roads and intersections. Just join a table of accident reports with the database in your GPS. Viola.
  3. Driver behavior around you: get input from backup sensors and maybe put an array all around the vehicle. Are cars around you changing lanes unnecessarily? Are they flying past you at high rates of speed?
  4. Driver history: everyone has a device on their dash that they have to insert their license into in order to start the car. The device broadcasts the number of points against your license so that risk detectors can factor this in for drivers of vehicles within accident range.

The point is to give the driver an understanding of elevated risk and allow for it. For instance by increasing following distance, avoiding lane changes, making right turns instead of left.

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comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-08-10 00:59:33.854071+00 by: Dan Lyke

So interestingly, the Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety Systems (IVBSS) program equipped a bunch of vehicles with lane deviation and follow distance warning systems. Their findings claimed some successes, and it'd take me a while to find the paper I'd already read on this because I was emailed it rather than reading it online, but while they were claiming tremendous decreases in warnings recorded over time, their reported accident rate was 15(!) times the national average.

If someone will pay me to I'll be happy to re-read the documents from that web page and tear the results apart (again, in public this time)...

I think the big questions are:

If you can get those error rates low enough, then it's a matter of making the feedback numbers count somehow (ie: insurance rates, gamification) so you don't end up with a situation like ABS or the CHMSL, where people just compensated for the additional capabilities and there wasn't really any actual safety gain.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-08-09 20:31:17.295115+00 by: ebradway

The idea isn't control or monitor, it's feedback. If some small percent of drivers react to the feedback, accident patterns may disappear. And you're right, GPS (Personal Nav) devices alone could give a large percent of that feedback. The one thing they would miss is lane changes. You could alter the feedback when the driver turns on the turn indicator. Maybe have a paper clip pop up on the windshield and ask "Are you really sure you want to make that left turn?"

The OBD-II problem isn't just your model-year. It was all Ford Ranger/Mazda B- series of that generation. My '98 Ranger (4-cylinder, automatic, 2WD) has the same problem.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-08-09 15:22:21.819851+00 by: Dan Lyke

So I think that black boxes of this sort are what insurance companies are doing for the "We'll forgive your accident" programs, and I'm guessing that we'll start to see lane deviation warnings and follow distances and similar metrics built into those programs shortly.

ODB-II wouldn't work on my truck (no distance info on that, but that's largely just my model year only) but GPS would work on every device and give you most of that data. And we may have to be carrying something like that shortly if gas taxes get replaced by road taxes...