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LAVIA--an evaluation of the potential safety benefits of the French intelligent speed adaptation project.

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Centre Européen d'Etudes de Sécurité et d'Analyse des Risques, Nanterre, France.


This paper presents the potential safety benefits of the experimental French LAVIA Intelligent Speed Adaptation system, according to road network and system mode, based on observed driving speeds, distributions of crash severity and crash injury risk. Results are given for car frontal and side impacts that together, represent 80% of all serious and fatal injuries in France. Of the three system modes tested (advisory, driver select, mandatory), our results suggest that driver select would most significantly reduce serious injuries and death. We estimate this 100% utilization of cars equipped with this type of speed adaptation system would decrease injury rates by 6% to 16% over existing conditions depending on the type of crash (frontal or side) and road environment considered. Some limitations associated with the analysis are also identified. LAVIA is the acronym for Limiteur s'Adaptant à la VItesse Autorisée, a French Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) project that was set up towards the end of 1999. At the time, 1998 French national road safety statistics recorded 8437 road related deaths, a figure which had shown virtually no positive evolution since 1994. Detailed analysis of the contributory factors involved in fatal road crashes highlighted the time-honoured crash and injury causation mechanisms - alcohol, speed and seatbelts. Of the three, excessive speed (over and above the posted speed limit) was a contributory factor in half of all fatal crashes Inappropriate behaviour such as excessive speeding can be dealt with either by legislative or driver-incentive programmes. The first of these two solutions involves the introduction of new legislation and/or the enforcement of existing laws. This is the domain of Public Authorities and will not be discussed in detail here. Alternatively, incentive schemes can involve the implementation of speed related driver assistance systems, categorised according to their voluntary or mandatory character and the degree of autonomy proposed to or imposed on the driver. The LAVIA project set out to address several possible combinations of these two factors. The generic term Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) encompasses a wide range of different technologies aimed at improving road safety by reducing traffic speed and homogenising traffic flow, within the limit of posted speed limits. "Fixed speed limit" systems inform the vehicle of the posted speed limit whereas "variable speed limit" systems take into account certain locations on the road network where a speed below the posted limit is desirable, such as sharp curves, pedestrian crossings or crash black spots. Taken one step further, speed limit systems may also take into account weather and traffic flow conditions. These systems are known as "dynamic speed limit" systems and benefit from real time updates for a specific location. The different ISA systems are generally characterised by the degree of freedom of choice given to the driver in moderating his or her speed. Speed limit technologies may be advisory (informing drivers of the current speed limit and speed limit changes), voluntary (allowing the driver to decide whether or not to implement speed limitation) or mandatory (imposing the current speed limit). The information supplied may be provided by way of the road infrastructure (and associated equipment), may be acquired autonomously by the vehicle or may be based on an interaction between the infrastructure and the vehicle. Even the most basic of these systems should be considered as a very useful driver aid, helping the driver to stay within the posted speed limit, avoiding "unnecessary" speeding fines through inattention, modelling driver behaviour through the long term reduction of speeds and reducing driver workload by limiting visual speedometer controls. Vehicle-based ISA systems should not be confused with internal systems. These latter systems rely upon the driver entering the desired travel speed, which is then maintained by cruise control or set as a maximum value by automatic speed regulators. Although these systems will not be discussed in detail here, it should be noted that the engine management technologies that they employ are a vital component of ISA systems.

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