Accidents and fatalities are estimated to cost 2% of the Gross Domestic Product of the EU, according to a report by the eSafety Support Group in 2004; the European Commission aimed to reduce the number of road fatalities by 50% by 2010.
The use of new technologies could contribute significantly to this reduction, and the eSafety initiative aims to accelerate the development, deployment, and use of Intelligent Vehicle Safety Systems (IVSS), Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), etc.
However, the implementation and adoption of new IVSS or ADAS systems depended on many actors (end users, vehicle and system manufacturers, and public authorities) and a wide range of factors.
Therefore, improving the information level of end-users on these technologies could be perceived as a key factor for a faster and wider market deployment. The end-user opinion and acceptance on safety technologies was strongly influenced by the professionals so it was necessary to train these professionals to transmit high quality information to end users.
The SAFETY-TECHNOPRO project was carried out within the general objective of the eSafety initiative – the deployment of existing and new road transport technologies – and aimed at developing end-user acceptance of ADAS and IVSS systems.
Starting from the assumption that end-user opinion is strongly influenced by professionals (sales persons, repairing technicians and technical inspectors), SAFETY-TECHNOPRO sought to devise a training system, in order for these professional bodies to transmit, in turn, high quality information on safety technologies to the end-user.
SAFETY-TECHNOPRO was therefore conceived as the most efficient way to achieve maximum acceptance and awareness on new safety technologies for road transport by the end users, provoking a progressive, but full, understanding of their potential.
The project's starting point was to carry out a complete review of available eSafety technologies and systems, allowing the project to focus on those safety technologies which would clearly respond to customer-demand, and set for commercialisation within the coming five years (2011 horizon).
The next step - the core of the project - was to design a training system, which would be relevant to the targeted population (professional bodies and, ultimately, end-users).
This was achieved through three tasks:
- The project carried out a European-wide assessment of the opinions, perceptions, habits, etc. of end-users, relating to safety technologies. This was done using an internet-based survey tool, Euro TEST, throughout 12 European countries: Belgium, United Kingdom, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal, Austria, Croatia, Norway and Switzerland.
- Information was also directly gathered from professional bodies, through specific questionnaires, in order to know their opinions on safety technologies.
- The gathered psycho-sociological data was analysed according to standard methodology analysis.
These tasks led to a set of training system requirements (related to methodological aspects, contents and also management aspects), allowing for the definition and elaboration of the training system.
The training system consisted of several modules adapted to the specific training recipients, and also characterised by a technological updating module. This training system was then tested, the trials being carried out within each sub-group of professionals.
SAFETY-TECHNOPRO provided two principal sets of results.
1. The first set of results is the complete assessment of ADAS and IVSS, in their relationship to end-user acceptance. Based on a Europe-wide survey, this assessment took into account both professional bodies and end users, and provided insights into:
- awareness of safety problems;
- cultural meaning of safety and of safety technologies;
- expectations on a cognitive and emotional level;
- fairness of (anticipated) implementation processes;
- behavioural adaptation to new technologies;
- willingness to pay;
- willingness to use.
This study was carried out in 12 countries, providing useful user types and cross-country distributions.
2. The second set of results concerned the development of the SAFETY-TECHNOPRO Training System.
Accessible through the SAFETY-TECHNOPRO project's website, the training system lists ADAS and IVSS applications and explains them in a manner relevant to professional bodies, by using standard psychological and cognitive tools. All available information is grouped in four areas for all systems: Presentation, Benefits, Technical Information and Use.
Awareness of ADAS and IVSS applications, with respect to end-user acceptance and adoption is key to road safety promotion the European Union. Under this assumption, methodologies and tools increasing public awareness of such systems ranks high on the EU's road-safety agenda.
Therefore, the SAFETY-TECHNOPRO project's main result, in a policy perspective, is twofold:
- To have conducted a complete survey on ADAS and IVSS applications and related usage and practices regarding end-user acceptance
- To have identified professional bodies as agents of safety technology awareness and adoption by end-users.