Study of startle/panic responses due to auditory and haptic warnings in roadway lane departure

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Engineering


Roadway lane departure accidents caused 25,082 fatalities which accounted for about 58 percent of all roadway fatalities in the United States this year (AASHTO, 2008). In order to reduce these fatalities different types of strategies were implemented such as providing shoulder and/or centerline rumble strips, enhancing delineation of sharp curves, removing or relocating objects, eliminating shoulder drop-offs and providing skid-resistant pavements. Of these strategies, the rumble strips strategy has been found to be more effective to warn drivers. But, the drawbacks of rumble strips have led to the introduction of in-vehicle warning systems. In-vehicle Lane Departure Warning Systems were machine vision-based that use algorithms to interpret video images to check the car's current position and time to lane crossing. However, it is not clear if the warnings themselves may be a potential hazard in terms of distracting or startling drivers. This distraction and startle might impede drivers from quickly and appropriately responding to the original traffic hazard. The present study is intended to better understand how human participants react to such sudden warnings given to them to warn in case of a possible hazard during roadway lane departure. Twelve participants (six male and six female) were asked to drive a simulated vehicle and they were alerted with auditory, haptic, combination of auditory & haptic and no-warning modalities during their lane departure. The responses of the participants were recorded using electromyography (EMG) from the deltoid, biceps brachii, pronator teres and tibialis anterior muscles. The results of the study determined that there is no significant difference in EMG activity between the warning modalities except for the deltoid muscle. The difference in EMG activity for the deltoid muscle for auditory condition is likely due to the greater maximum steering response. Moreover, there is no significant difference among warning modalities during the participant's first warning event. Also, there is no difference in EMG activity between genders due to warning modalities. Overall, findings suggest that there is no potential startle/panic response perceived by the participants due to warning systems in roadway lane departure.




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