CO2 effects on driver state and driving performance will be analysed in new SAFER project

Recent studies suggest that moderate CO2 levels may affect negatively human state and performance. Since these levels have been commonly found inside of standard vehicles, their effects on driver state and performance need to be investigated. This project will shed light on this potential problem.

Driving with the recirculation mode is a frequent situation that can rapidly increase in-cabin CO2 concentration to moderately high levels (1000-5000 ppm). Recent data shows that these levels affect human cognitive state. However, there is lack of knowledge on its effects on drivers’ state and performance, and on how this could affect traffic safety, which is the focus of this project.

A simulator study will be conducted in the project. Specifically, the effects of different CO2 moderate concentrations on driver state and performance will be investigated. Thirty-two adult drivers will fill in questionnaires and perform various cognitive and driving tasks in a test room under three different CO2 levels (700, 1500 and 3000 ppm). Heart activity will also be monitored. 

The results of this project will help to understand the role of CO2 as a potential risk factor for driver performance and road safety. The simulator study will also determine which CO2 levels should be avoided in the cabin. This information will potentially be used in the development of a CO2 sensor system in the cabin to detect suboptimal concentrations in standard vehicles.

This new SAFER associated project will be placed in SAFER’s Road user behaviour project portfolio. Investigating environmental factors that affect driver performance is a key objective to support the creation of a safe transport system for all road users. VTI is SAFER’s part in this project and SENSEAIR AB is the other partner. The project is funded by Vinnova and will be finalized in March 2022. The project leader is Ignacio Solís, VTI, and one PhD student, Bakhram Gaynullin, Mid Sweden University, will be engaged in the project.

Safer – Vehicle and Traffic Safety Centre

SAFER is the open research arena where researchers and expertise work together to create safe mobility. Our traffic safety approach covers people, vehicles and the infrastructure – and together we contribute to safer road transports and smarter, more sustainable cities.

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