How ready are Australasian roads for automated driving?
Austroads has released a series of reports that examine the readiness of Australian and New Zealand highways and freeways to support automated vehicles. These reports follow on from previous work by Austroads and other agencies which studied how well automated vehicles could read existing line marking and road signs.
Providing real-time warnings of potential hazards to drivers
VicRoads notes “In an Australian first, a new tech trial is coming to Melbourne's West! Sensors and light detection technology will be installed at the busy intersection of Williamstown Road and Somerville Road to trial providing real-time warnings of potential hazards to drivers”.
The Victorian Government said:
“One third of deaths and 44 per cent of serious injuries on Victoria’s roads occur at intersections. This trial will provide insights that can help boost safety at busy, complex intersections.
“Specialist light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors will monitor the intersection and analyse all crashes and near misses.
“The cutting-edge technology will also provide real-time warnings of potential hazards to vehicles fitted with connected technology.
“This is the first time LIDAR technology has been used in this way in Australia and will allow Road Safety Victoria to closely analyse crashes and near misses, and how they may have been caused, to make roads safer.
Alan Finlay raises some issues about developing technologies that do what an alert driver should do. We need to consider whether new technologies may encourage an overconfidence in drivers that will lead to them paying even less attention to the driving task.
In part Alan said:
“If you closely watch driving behaviour, many of them don’t look further ahead than the rear lights of the vehicle in front. How else could they be “surprised” at finding themselves stuck behind a right turn queue when the vehicle 3 or 4 cars in front had its blinker on for at least 30 seconds.
“Murcotts Driving Excellence (with whom NRMA Safer Driving partnered for its post-license courses) has a very simple but effective slogan: “Look up; stay back”. In other words, keep your vision well ahead and allow at least 3 seconds following time. If more drivers followed this advice, as well as continuously scanning the road environment, there would be fewer ‘surprises’ and fewer crashes.