TeleFOT Consortium has revealed the outcome of a four-year study which focused on the assessment of the impacts of driver support functions provided by smartphones, navigators and other in-vehicle aftermarket and nomadic devices on the driving task and driver behaviour.
The extensive research material reveals that intelligent transport systems allowed drivers to find quicker and less congested routes, and prevented them from speeding accidentally.
Fuel costs also dropped, as did driving-related stress and anxiety. The drivers’ sense of safety and driving comfort increased.
The study was based on extensive field trials, with almost 3,000 drivers covering a combined distance of more than 10 million kilometres in eight European countries.
With a budget of EUR 15 million, the four-year TeleFOT project, coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, is one of the biggest traffic ICT projects in Europe.
The recently completed operational field trials produced a unique set of data, based on a comprehensive assessment of driver behaviour and the efficiency, quality, robustness and user-friendliness of interactive in-vehicle traffic systems and services.
Many intelligent transport services provided by nomadic devices are already part of the daily lives of road users, but information about their actual impacts on road safety, for example, has not previously been available.
Test drivers were recruited for the project from Finland, Sweden, Germany, the UK, France, Greece, Italy and Spain.
The project studied the impacts of driver support functions provided by in-vehicle aftermarket devices on safety, efficiency, mobility, the environment, and driver behaviour in road traffic.
The services tested included static and dynamic navigation support, green driving support, speed limit information and traffic information.
Of the tested devices, navigators and traffic information systems, in particular, increased efficiency by allowing drivers to find quicker and less congested routes.
Up to 45% of participants, particularly those in large cities, reported that the traffic information function helped them to avoid travel delays and traffic jams.
Green driving systems guided drivers to routes that lowered their emissions, and towards driving more economically. Green driving advisory systems were found to reduce fuel consumption by up to 6%.
At the Finnish test site, for example, the use of a green driving system in bus transport helped to lower fuel consumption and to reduce speeding, which also improves road safety.
Another significant finding is that the systems reduced driving-related stress and anxiety across the board and, in all the participating countries, increased the drivers’ sense of safety and driving comfort. From the perspective of mobility, the results were positive for all systems.
The users’ expectations for the services were high at first. After using the services for some time, they were slightly disappointed not to have seen a direct benefit. The longer they used the services, the more clearly they could see the benefits and advantages, and the more satisfied they were.