This project, conducted under the auspices of the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool (WSTIP), involved field testing and evaluating a vision-based Collision Avoidance Warning System (CAWS) specifically developed for use on transit buses. The CAWS uses four cameras to provide coverage of blind zones where vulnerable road users may be hidden from the driver’s view:
- a master camera attached to the center of the inside windshield
- a camera attached to the inside windshield positioned to cover the blind zone on the left front created by the "A" pillar
- one external forward-facing camera on each side of the bus towards the rear, to cover blind zones behind the driver.
Alerts and warnings about imminent collisions are displayed to the driver by visual indicators located on the windshield and front pillars. The CAWS provides alerts and warnings to a bus driver for the following conditions that could lead to a collision: 1) changing lanes without activating a turn signal (lane departure warning was disabled for this pilot), 2) exceeding posted speed limit, 3) monitoring headway with the vehicle leading the bus, 4) forward vehicle collision warning, and 5) pedestrian or cyclist collision warning in front of, or alongside the bus.
Include transit drivers in the development and testing of new collision avoidance technologies to help gain driver acceptance of these technologies. Gaining driver acceptance of new technologies and seeking their participation in testing new products is a challenge. Driving a bus requires skill and concentration. Warning indicators that divert attention from the driving tasks at hand are viewed as distracting and annoying. After initial development and testing in non-revenue operation, the path to deployment of CAWS requires testing in revenue service. Drivers need to be thoroughly trained on the technology and be able to have input to product development. In addition, drivers should be made aware of the potential positive benefits of CAWS to them.
Emphasizing the safety benefits and reduced likelihood of crash involvement with the development and deployment of such technologies should also have a positive impact on drivers, as collisions risk injury and career disruptions.