Dr Neelima Chakrabarty, Sr Principal Scientist & Kamini Gupta Sr Technical Officer, Traffic Engineering and Safety Division, CSIR-Central Road Research Institute, share the observations from a study conducted among the commercial drivers under different simulated terrains under Indian Traffic Conditions.
Driving is a complex task requiring a vigilant mind and sound health. Major cause of accidents has been identified as improper driving behaviour. Hence it is important to understand and study the influence of driver behaviour on road traffic accidents. Heighted emotions such as stress, anger or upset are a form of distraction that can significantly impede drivers’ ability to spot and respond to hazards.
Researches done all over the world have highlighted that drivers who suffer from work related stress are more likely to do mistakes while driving and more likely to be involved in serious crashes by taking risks such as speeding, rapidly switching lanes, tailgating and jumping red lights.
In this study, 119 drivers were administered as subjects in whom different driving tests pertaining to different simulated driving scenarios were administered with the help of simulator installed at CSIR-CRRI. After testing, total available data was analyzed and each driver’s performance in each scenario was observed and analyzed accordingly. The data was classified further on the basis of number of crashes caused by the drivers tested under various terrain categories. The total number of errors committed by the drivers other than the crashing errors was analysed separately. The data has been segregated as with crashes and without crashes. The proportions of other errors with crashes and no crashes are shown above.
For City drives, the data reveals that group B drivers did more accelerator related errors 74.6%, clutch related errors 65.1 %, lane selection errors 74.5%, and stalling errors 67.2% as against the 25.4%, 34.9% ,25.5% and 32.8% of group A drivers. Overtaking error was found to be higher as 75% of group B as against 5.8% for group A drivers. Furthermore 57.9% of group B drivers had more committed ignition errors as when considered to the much lower proportion of 42.1% for group A.
For Highway drive, the data reveals that group B drivers committed high acceleration errors 72.5%, high speeding 100% and clutch errors 55.4% as against the 27.5%, 0% and 44.6% of A group. Similarly wrong lane selection and stalling errors among group B were observed higher as 55.1% and 72.6% as against 44.9% and 27.4% of group B drivers. Staling errors, not engaging parking brakes, off road driving and choosing wrong gear as compared to speed was observed more among group B as 72.6%. Overtaking error was found higher at 59.3% among group B when compared to the 40.7 % for drivers of B group. Furthermore 56.2% and 62.8% of group B drivers had shown more gear and ignition errors as against 43.8% and 37.2% of group A drivers.
On the basis of the above results, it can be concluded that the number of traffic violations and wrong use of vehicle appliances (gear, clutch etc.) are directly related to the driver category irrespective of the driving terrain.
Drivers with no simulated crash history showed considerably less driving related errors when compared to drivers with simulated crashes. Thus the results of the present study also emphasis that driver performance should be screened scientifically, objectively and uniformly all over India during learning and licence renewal. This shows a substantially reliable conclusion that driver performance can be validated by considering his/her crash history and also a good and reliable simulator should be a part of screening system before licensing and during license renewal. Based on the review and analysis, this article also recommends certain measures pertaining to driver licensing and traffic law enforcement in India aimed at improving road safety.
Currently, India follows a single-phase licensing system with probationary period. It is worth amending the driving licensing system in India considering the international experience.
Licensing age: It has been established from past studies that the lowering of the learner licensing age limit is a good strategy for lowering the road traffic crashes since it facilitates more time for the novice drivers to learning safe driving. In India, two-wheelers are involved more than any other vehicle in road crashes, while the learner age for two-wheeler vehicle (up to 50 cc, i.e. moped) is 16 years, One can get full license at the age of 16.5 years, i.e. within 180 days of getting a learner license. The age limit for solo driving of two-wheelers in India can be made 18 years with increasing learner training period.
Experience: A curriculum should be made such that learner drivers can get sufficient amount of practice and are better prepared to handle high risks, which they may encounter in initial years after getting a license for solo driving. Swedish research shows that learners who received about 118 hours of supervised experience had up to 35% fewer crashes than those who received only 41–47 hours.
Pre-licensing training: Sufficient amount of practice, at least 50 hours of pre-licensing practice should be made mandatory before embarking upon solo driving. These policies may not be implemented very easily as in the case of Victoria in Australia where a 120 hours training was announced as a long-term plan but became mandatory only after seven years, but efforts are needed in this direction.
License renewal: The first renewal age for licenses is 40 years in India. According to a study conducted in Guwahati, middle age group drivers fail the most in vision-related physical tests for safe driving, yet after issuing license initially, they are never tested again.
Hence, the renewal period can be revised spanning time duration of 5–7 years. Test according to specifics of a driver: In India, the testing procedures are common for all the drivers. But, considering the heterogeneity of traffic situation in India, different tests based on the type of vehicle, age, etc. may be conducted.
Introducing National licensing system: Previous researches have shown little effectiveness resulting from formal training practices, so changes in existing training and testing procedures should be considered. In any driving curriculum, the three elements (goals of driver education, content/method of education and testing procedures) should be in harmony with each other. It is also considered meaningful to borrow some trends and contents from international driving education and
licensing system. Some of them are:
- Mandatory physical tests to assess various physiological characteristics of the driver, which are important for safe driving
- Compulsory and formal driver education (possibly based on GDE) as part of the licensing process
- Graduated driver licensing system
- Mandatory formal and informal practice before licensing
- Involvement of hazard perception test in license test
- Restriction gradually removed from probationary license
- Absence of any corruption in licensing system
- Use of ITS for traffic law enforcement
A study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) says that an Advanced Driver Assistance Systems could avert almost 30 percent of crashes but stakeholders must take action to spur increased ADAS adoption. If widely adopted, the system could generate tremendous benefits to society, sharply reducing the number, cost, and severity of automotive accidents.
ADAS could prevent 28 percent of all crashes in the United States, if newcar buyers invested in ADAS features. The technologies could prevent approximately 9,900 fatalities and save about $251 billion to society each year,
BCG found. That’s about two and a half times the amount that the federal government spends on education annually.
The study focused on the seven ADAS features and feature combinations that are most prevalent in the US market: forward collision warning/assist/ adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, night vision, lane departure warning/lane keep assist, adaptive front lighting, surround view, and park assist features.
The study notes that ADAS features, together with their underlying sensor technologies, form the ‘building blocks’ of partially autonomous driving, which in turn will give rise to fully autonomous driving. BCG forecasts that fully selfdriving vehicles could generate societal savings of as much as $53,000 per car sold when they have fully penetrated the market. Partially autonomous features are expected to appear as early as later this year.
ADAS and autonomous driving also raise complex issues related to cybersecurity, data privacy, and liability; and thus, to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancement, regulators and legislators must address systemic roadblocks by increasing their collaboration with industry, boosting funding for research, and provide longterm guidance to stakeholders.