Increasing Safety Margins
MeBeSafe is an EU-funded research project that will develop and test solutions to nudge car drivers and cyclists towards safer behaviour in common traffic situations that carry an elevated risk. The project will also compare different ways of coaching.
The purpose is to reduce the number of “almost-crashes”, also known as risky situations. Increasing safety margins will lead to risky situations being avoided – which in turn will lead to fewer crashes in general
Traffic behaviour is mainly habitual
Navigating in traffic is an everyday activity for most people and their behaviour is largely controlled by automatic responses. Automated behaviour is not dangerous in itself. It can be anywhere on the scale from high safety margins to very risky.
Many safety measures in traffic fail to reach their potential because they appeal to conscious decision-making. However, the ordinary road user will primarily see traffic as a habitual task and not devote much thought to it.
By using a nudging approach, road users will instead be encouraged to make a safe choice without even thinking of it. All options, including the unsafe ones, are still open, which makes nudging less intrusive than outright prohibitions
Road accident statistics clearly show a number of high-level causation factors, which can be summarised in three categories.
MeBeSafe intends to address these risk factors through seven specific objectives:
Get more road users to direct their attention towards potential dangers
Get more road users to use an appropriate speed in potentially dangerous situations
Get more road users to follow an optimal trajectory in potentially dangerous situations
Increase car drivers’ awareness of potential hazards by using in-vehicle nudges
Increase the distance between cars by increasing the use of Adaptive Cruise Control
Get more drowsy car drivers to take a break by using in-vehicle nudges
Get more Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers to put their good driving skills into practice, e.g. by reducing harsh braking
But what is actually done?
MeBeSafe is trying an array of different solutions, from an in-vehicle nudge to increase car drivers attention to cyclists, to a row of lamps creating an illusion of light moving towards the driver as well stripes on the road to affect cyclists and an app to coach truck drivers.