Report numberRA-2005-65
TitleSystems to improve the driver's visibility
SubtitleTechnical description and impact on road safety
AuthorsJohan Verlaak
Published byPolicy Research Centre for Traffic Safety 2002-2006
Number of pages47
Document languageDutch
Partner(s)Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek
Work packageOther: Vehicle technology

A very important aspect in traffic safety is the field of view of the driver. In all situations the driver should have a clear overview on the traffic situation.


On one hand, the infrastructure plays an important role. By taking the drivers perception into account during the planning of roads, traffic can take place in safe way.


On the other hand the vehicle has to be equipped in such a way that the driver has a clear view in all circumstances. Examples of vehicle technology that determine the field of view of the driver are the wind screen, the mirrors and the headlights. Due to the developments in vehicle electronics, the field of view of the driver can be increased by sensors that detect obstacles near the vehicle and generate a sound/light signal, or camera systems. These systems are being introduced in the market, also in conventional vehicles.


Traffic safety is used by the vehicle manufacturers as a selling argument, therefore the additional cost of these systems is accepted by the customer.


From research it is shown that blind spot mirrors have an effect on the traffic safety of trucks. A European directive describes the minimal specifications of blind spot mirrors.


For other systems that are introduced to improve the field of view, the effect on traffic safety is not that clear. To evaluate the effect of a specific technology, measurements in laboratories and with driving simulators are being performed.


The authorities could take initiatives to provide the consumer with information on the impact of vehicle technology on traffic safety. Results of an accurate and complete registration of accidents can help on the evaluation of a technology regarding traffic safety. Reliable data from the past can help in quantifying the effect on traffic safety of measures or technology to be developed.


As was said in earlier reports, vehicle technology has to be seen in a European perspective, due to the fact that vehicles are developed for a European (or even world) market.

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The Policy Research Centre for Traffic Safety carries out policy relevant scientific research under the authority of the Flemish Government. The Centre is the result of a

cooperation between Hasselt University, KU Leuven and VITO, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research.


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