On the importance of driver models for the development and assessment of active safety: A new collision warning system to make overtaking cyclists safer
The total number of road crashes in Europe is decreasing, but the number of crashes involving cyclists is not decreasing at the same rate. When cars and bicycles share the same lane, cars typically need to overtake them, creating dangerous conflicts—especially on rural roads, where cars travel much faster than cyclists. In order to protect cyclists, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are being developed and introduced to the market. One of them is a forward collision warning (FCW) system that helps prevent rear-end crashes by identifying and alerting drivers of threats ahead. The objective of this study is to assess the relative safety benefit of a behaviour-based (BB) FCW system that protects cyclists in a car–to–cyclist overtaking scenario. Virtual safety assessments were performed on crashes derived from naturalistic driving data. A series of driver response models was used to simulate different driver reactions to the warning. Crash frequency in conjunction with an injury risk model was used to estimate the risk of cyclist injury and fatality. The virtual safety assessment estimated that, compared to no FCW, the BB FCW could reduce cyclists’ fatalities by 53–96% and serious injuries by 43–94%, depending on the driver response model. The shorter the driver’s reaction time and the larger the driver’s deceleration, the greater the benefits of the FCW. The BB FCW also proved to be more effective than a reference FCW based on the Euro NCAP standard test protocol. The findings of this study demonstrate the BB FCW’s great potential to avoid crashes and reduce injuries in car–to–cyclist overtaking scenarios, even when the driver response model did not exceed a comfortable rate of deceleration. The results suggest that a driver behaviour model integrated into ADAS collision threat algorithms can provide substantial safety benefits.