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FMCSA To Conduct Intensive Driver Behavior Study

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is looking to get approval from the Office of Management and Budget for performing a human-factor study.

The study will examine the effects of nondriving secondary task engagement, transfer of control and training on driver behavior in commercial motor vehicles stocked with L2 advanced driver-assistance systems and L3 automated driving systems. 

The study will consist of a driving simulator with 100 commercial vehicle drivers and a series of questions. The contents of the questions remain unknown but more information about the study can be found in the agency’s statements on June 23.

Advanced driver assistance systems and automated driving systems are helping to reduce how much a truck driver has to do while behind the wheel,” the agency said. “ADS systems could even remove the need for truck drivers in certain applications.”

According to FMCSA, higher levels of ADAS and lower levels of ADS “present an environment that is ripe for overreliance.”

“An L2 vehicle offers longitudinal and lateral support to the driver; however, the driver is still responsible for driving at all times,” the notice said. “At this level, engaging in nondriving secondary tasks can be highly detrimental to driving performance as the driver may not recognize and respond to hazards timely or appropriately.

“In an L3 vehicle, the role of distraction is blurred. L3 is the lowest level considered to be ADS. The driver takes on a more supervisory role and is in full control of the vehicle in a limited number of situations. When an L3 vehicle alerts the driver that a takeover is required, the driver needs to have situational awareness to resume full control of the vehicle.”

Public concerns for the study can be voiced on the official announcement of the study. All comments must be received on or before July 24.

General issues around the study from the public include the following:

  • General safety concerns.
  • Concern for job loss due to ADS-equipped CMVs.
  • Concerns related to the operation of ADS within specific operational design domains.
  • Concerns with specific ADS and/or ADAS.
  • The failure of ADS sensors.
  • The security of ADS-equipped CMV.
  • Driver inattention/distraction when operating an ADS.
  • The actual data collection efforts and support for the study.

FMCSA also said in their statement that engagement in nondriving secondary tasks could also prevent the drivers from maintaining situational awareness while driving.

The notice said a recently completed study by FMCSA on research involving ADS found a lack of research related to ADS-equipped CMVs.

“To date, most commercial ADSs on U.S. roadways are in passenger vehicles, and commercial motor vehicle ADS have only recently begun being implemented in real-world operations,” the notice said.

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