Research on Overtaking and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ROADAS)

Overtaking accidents on two lane rural roads cause about 26 fatalities in the Netherlands each year. TU Delft is researching whether the use of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can help reduce this number and what requirements such a system should meet in order to have a positive result.  

Overtaking accidents
With 35 to 50 percent of fatal car accidents worldwide being caused by head on collisions, it is only natural that researchers are looking for ways to increase overtaking traffic safety. Implementing overtaking prohibitions is one way of doing this, but this measure is costly, time consuming and annoys many drivers. Furthermore, people can simply ignore prohibitions and only a fraction of overtaking manoeuvres actually causes accidents, so prohibition seems a rather far-fetched solution. That is why researchers at TU Delft have been looking at the use of ADAS instead. 

Prototype assistant
To design an overtaking assistant, relevant data on overtaking frequency and overtaking behaviour is necessary. We therefore did research into both these factors, using cameras and observers as well as an instrumented vehicle, which recorded the overtaking manoeuvres of anonymous drivers. The results showed that different drivers generally tend to overtake in a similar way. We then analyzed all individual tasks involved in an overtaking manoeuvre. This showed that the task to judge the gap with opposing traffic specifically required assistance, so we developed a prototype overtaking assistant that told people when the gap was big enough to safely overtake.  

Practical use
The overtaking assistant was tested using a driving simulator at TNO in Soesterberg. Tests showed the overtaking frequency is not affected by the use of the assistant, but the variation in overtaking behaviour and the difference between male and female drivers did become less. Whereas female drivers normally are not as eager to overtake as male drivers are, they now made more and faster overtaking manoeuvres.  

TU Delft’s researchers are currently working on further development of the overtaking assistant. The possibilities of personal settings, for instance, are being researched. With computer simulations, we are also looking at what the effects will be when multiple drivers use the overtaking assistant. How will this effect safety or traffic flow? 

The ROADAS research project is part of the Behavioural Analysis and Modelling for the Design and Implementation of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (BAMADAS) project. Several TU Delft students and researchers, as well as students from Groningen University and Twente University are involved and we have close connections with BMW, who have developed an overtaking assistant that warns drivers about dangerous situations ahead. 

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