Overtaking Safely

Florian Kotzur, Jens Ruland

We have all seen trucks changing lanes too early when overtaking on highways putting themselves and others at risk! This can easily cause accidents, especially in case of long trucks as it is difficult for the driver to tell when they have passed the vehicle they are overtaking.

Unfall This is what overtaking can
look like when it goes wrong.

Overtaking is particularly risky in the dark and in fog. Also inexperienced drivers of rental vehicles are at increased risk. Many people rent a truck to move large objects or when they are moving and as they do not know the vehicle they often struggle with overtaking. Some drivers flash their lights to signal that it is safe to change lanes when the overtaking vehicle has passed them. However, what if lights are flashed too early or not at all? Then an incorrect judgement of the truck driver can put lives and the environment at risk. In order to make overtaking safer, we have developed a system that tells the truck driver when they are a safe distance of 50 m ahead of the overtaken vehicle, so that they know when they can return to the outside lane safely. Using ultrasound and microchips, our system determines the relative velocity of both vehicles and calculates the time that the truck needs to reach a safe distance. Then it informs the driver with visual and audio signals lasting 10 seconds that it is safe to change lanes.

Of course, the relative velocity between the truck and the overtaken vehicle could decrease as the overtaken vehicle could accelerate. Our flexible system warns the driver in this case not to change lanes and it will wait with the signal to change lanes until the distance to the overtaken vehicle is sufficient.

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