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Reducing Road Rage

Communication via augmented reality platforms increases driver empathy

Our first instinctive reaction to the actions of other drivers may often be wrong and cause unnecessary anger. After all, we really have no idea why other drivers act as they do. They may be rushing to the hospital, late for picking up their children at school, or about to miss a flight. And if we knew about that, we may well be less inclined to get so aggressive about their behaviour on the road.

Road Rage

According to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety on police records, there are more than 1200 incidents of road rage reported per year in the United States, many of which have led to serious injuries or even fatalities.

In Europe, Italy and the United Kingdom top the charts with the angriest, most impatient and aggressive drivers, while Swedenapparently has the calmest drivers on the continent.

Road rage makes everyone’s driving quality worse, but new experiments have revealed that just a little bit of empathy, fuelled by more information, can go a long way in preventing anger, squabbles and even fights over driving behaviour.

Augmented Reality

A research team at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands has developed an augmented reality app designed to reduce road rage by improving communication between drivers.

This social car project prototype allows drivers to receive information – displayed directly on their windscreens thanks to augmented reality – about other driver’s situations and destinations.

Moreover, one specific system feature, known as “CarNote,” allows drivers to use the same system to display virtual signs and alert other drivers to emergencies, such as “rushing to the hospital” or “late for school pick up.” Naturally, there is a limit to how often these signs can be displayed to prevent their abuse.

A further social connection feature, allows drives to like and dislike, and even comment and review other drivers based on their driving style and etiquette. Indeed, the research team even suggested that insurance companies may be able to factor such information directly into their pricing policies.

Connected Cars

The results of a test trial on the app indicate that road rage can be significantly attenuated by providing drivers with more information. In a simulated pilot with 30 individuals, the drivers who received additional information on the reason why other cars were speeding or driving too slowly proved far more empathic towards others.

In the near future, telematics systems may easily enable this feature via communication systems that directly identify car license plates, allowing drivers (or vehicles in the future) to be instantly notified about emergencies and extenuating circumstances that are forcing other drivers to break or bend the rules and road etiquette.

Moreover, anger increases our blood pressure and is bad for our health. The cars of the future, which will come equipped with sensors to monitor our health and vital parameters, may also provide useful alerts that will help us to calm down and not react instinctively as soon as something goes wrong on the road.

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