sound design for traffic safety

ProjectSound Design for Better Traffic Safety

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Sound Design for Better Traffic Safety

Sound design for better traffic safety  was a cooperation project between RISE Interactive (formerly called Interactive Institute), Scania CV and Luleå University of Technology. The project aimed at developing methods for design of communicative sounds in the vehicle cab. Driver distraction is a recognized and potentially increasing safety issue today. Developing sound as a medium for information might be a way to assist the driver and help him/her stay focused on the road.

The project has resulted in a number of articles that has been presented on conferences such as ICAD, ITS World Congress and Transportforum. Members of the Sonic Studio had as part of the project and has been working with VTI (Statens väg- och transportforskningsinstitut) to develop a sound system for one of their driving simulators. The simulator was used in this projects studies of warning signals.

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Experiments

During the project a number of experiments has been carried out:

1) Warnings signals and drivers' mental workload (2008)

In this experiment we studied the use of short sound messages and tested how the use of them effected the mental workload of the drivers. 14 truck drivers participated in the test. Ages ranged between 22 and 61.They tested sound messages of diffrent types; verbal, meaningful/iconic and arbitrary auditory signs and their task was to judge the signlas as fast as possible so it would not affect the driving more than necessary. They first learned the meaning of the signs and then performed a driving task in a simulator (a scenario of driving and changing lane). While driving the auditory signs were presented and the driver had to choose one traffic situation that he thought it meant (pedestrian nearby, bicycle nearby, child nearby etc). The studiy showed that the drivers made more mistakes and used loger time to make judgements when interpreting arbitrary signs that had no meaning in the context and were difficult to learn. Sounds that are easy to learn and are suitable for the truck driving context are to prefer.

2) Warning signlas and stress/arousal (2009)

This study was cariied out in the VTI simulator. We wanted to study how sounds that are designed to sound critical affect the driving. We know that if a stress level is high your attention gets limited/more narrow. The study investigated how driving skill was affected by warning signals that sounded more or less critical and if it affected the ability to react to what happens in the traffic.

3) Drivers' attitudes towards warning signals and audio information (2010)

This is an ongoing study where we used the PART application to get input from drivers about sound design for a driver context.