Design blind spot warning systems to minimize false alarms.
Promising technologies for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in North Carolina.
Date Posted

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Advanced System Testing Utilizing a Data Acquisition System on the Highways (FAST DASH): Safety Technology Evaluation Project #1 Blindspot Warning: Final Report

Summary Information

This study evaluated the effectiveness of blind spot warning (BSW) systems to improve commercial motor vehicle safety. Twenty (20) commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) equipped with BSW systems were evaluated over an 11 month period during normal revenue-producing operations in North Carolina. The BSW system used infrared technology and array of lasers to create a 3-D detection zones on the driver and passenger sides of the vehicle. LEDs mounted on side-view mirrors were used to alert drivers of objects or vehicles in blind spots.

To evaluate performance, a data acquisition system (DAS) with sensors and video cameras was installed on each truck to track vehicle location using GPS, calculate vehicle lane position using machine vision, measure steering and throttle movements using a gyro and accelerometer, and collected performance data using an in-vehicle network.

The BSW system was initially tested on a test track along side other vehicles to establish parameters for system functions and false alarms. Once system functions achieved acceptable performance the system was installed on a fleet of CMVs to support further field testing.

Based on experience from the evaluation project, researchers offered the following as potential design improvement recommendations that could be applicable to other BSW systems, but would need to be evaluated by system developers and engineers for feasibility and success for individual systems.

Lessons Learned

The BSW system increased driver awareness of vehicles in adjacent lanes; however, field testing identified opportunities to improve system performance.

  • Design BSW sensors to minimize false alarms by classifying detected objects in relation to given driving conditions. Efforts should be made to suppress objects such as guardrails, barriers, fences, and signs that drivers may perceive as false alarms when vehicles are not present.
  • Design BSW side-view mirror warning light indicators with adjustable brightness levels that adapt to ambient light conditions. Several drivers surveyed during the project indicated that passenger side LEDs were not effective due to the low brightness levels and distance from the driver. Currently, SAE standards for passenger vehicles are available, but not for CMVs. The passenger vehicle standards, however, may provide developers with insight into appropriate luminance levels needed for BSW systems on CMVs.
  • Ensure BSW sensor coverage on the driver side of the vehicle is wide enough to detect small vehicles such as motorcycles. Although this would only enhance indirect vision from mirrors, it could benefit drivers in high-density or fast-moving traffic.