ABSTRACT: Traffic safety has been traditionally addressed through individual improvements to the car by manufacturers; improvements to the driver through education and enforcement; and, improvements to the infrastructure by government. While none of these approaches is incorrect, they are incomplete. We believe that further opportunities for enhancing safety are to be found in creatively exploiting the overlapping and interactive nature of the role of the vehicle, driver, and driving environment in accident prevention and mitigation. We apply wellness, as developed in the fields of health behavior and sports psychology, as an integrating framework to envision driver performance as dynamic and improvable. From this perspective, and building on advances in ambient intelligence, we propose the development of an AwareCar. The AwareCar concept would detect driver state (fatigue or stress); display that information to the driver to improve the driver’s situational awareness in relation to road conditions and their own ‘normal’ driving behaviors; and offer in-vehicle systems to refresh the driver thereby improving performance and safety. Progress in the development of this concept is discussed in the context of the ongoing research, testing, and validation of the MIT AwareCar platform.
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December 30, 2009.