The most difficult at-fault fatal crashes to avoid with current active safety technology
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › Scientific › peer-review
|Journal||Accident Analysis and Prevention|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 13 Dec 2019|
|Publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|
Methods: We carried out a cross-sectional study of passenger cars that were first registered during the period 1st January 2010 to 31st December 2017 in Finland. To gain the true exposure for these cars, we accessed the national Vehicular and Driver Data Register to obtain the mileage information and the registration count for the study period of 2010-17. Similarly, we accessed the registry of Finnish road accident investigation teams and included all fatal at-fault crashes among the cars in our study for the same period. We used a real world reference technology for each active safety system in our analysis and chose one car brand as an example. This gave us exact system specifications and enabled testing the operation of the systems on the road. We performed field tests to gain further information on the precise operation of the safety systems in different operating conditions. Finally, we gathered all information on the studied active safety systems and analyzed the investigated at-fault fatal crashes case-by-case using our four level method.
Results: Cars in our study were the primary party in 113 investigated fatal accidents during the years 2010-17. In 87 of the accidents, the leading cause of death was the injuries due to the crash, and these cases were classified as “unavoidable” (n = 58, 67 %), “avoidable” (n = 26, 30 %) or unsolved (n = 3, 3 %). Of the 58 “unavoidable” crashes 21 (36 %) were suicides, 21 (36%) involved active driver input which would have prevented the safety system operation, 15 (17 %) featured circumstances beyond the safety system performance and in one loss-of-control crash the driver had disabled the relevant safety system (electronic stability control). The registration years of the cars in our study (2010-17) totaled 3,772,864 and during this period, the cars travelled 75.9 billion kilometers. The crash incidence of the “unavoidable” at-fault fatal crashes was 0.76-0.80 fatal crashes per billion kilometers and 15-16 fatal crashes per million registration years.
Conclusions: We calculated a crash incidence for the “unavoidable” crashes which was 20–27% smaller than the observed crash rate of ESC-fitted passenger cars in our previous study. We concluded that suicides, active driver input until the crash, and challenging weather and road conditions are the most difficult factors for current active safety systems. Our analysis did not account for issues such as system usability or driver acceptance and therefore our results should be regarded as something that is currently theoretically achievable. However, the observed incidence is a good reference for automated driving development and the crash rate of automated cars.