With the looming statistic of over 1.6 million intersection crashes involving light vehicles each year, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) shared its research in intersection collision avoidance at The National Intelligent Vehicle Meeting and Demonstration, held June 24-26 in Washington, D.C.

VTTI joined other transportation experts in presenting research pertaining to the Intelligent Vehicle Initiative's (IVI) focus of improving highway safety and developing driver assistance systems. The IVI program was created by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1997 to specialize in vehicle-specific transportation research and development.

VTTI presented its intersection decision support system, which targets intersection crashes caused by stop-sign and traffic-signal violations. The Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Transportation Research Council are partners in this collision avoidance study.

"We have a real opportunity to improve driving safety and reduce fatalities by addressing intersection crashes," said Vicki Neale, leader of VTTI's Safety and Human Factors Engineering Group that is conducting the study.

Research shows that the most common type of intersection crash (at nearly 30 percent), called the "straight crossing path" crash, occurs when a driver continues into an intersection against a red light and collides with a crossing vehicle. VTTI's decision support system is designed to greatly reduce the number of these crashes. The proposed signalized intersections can determine a vehicle's location and speed and warn the driver, using an LED stop sign and strobe lights, if it is predicted that he or she will cross into the intersection during a red phase.

VTTI is also researching an in-vehicle system through its Intersection Collision Avoidance (ICAV) project that will allow vehicles to communicate with these intersection-based systems and further reduce human error. "When auto manufacturers are ready to install the in-vehicle technologies, the roadside aspect of the cooperative system, primarily the communication system, will be already in place for them," Neale said. This combined, infrastructure-cooperative system will alert the inattentive or distracted driver to an imminent stop-sign or signal violation using an audible signal.

VTTI also demonstrated the ICAV system as well as displaying a vehicle instrumented for the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, a major research effort to collect crash causation data using instrumented vehicles driven by participants in the Washington, D.C. area. This study will give researchers a glimpse into factors leading up to crashes and near-crash events.