Driving is something many of us do every day, yet, it remains dangerous. In the United States alone there are over 6 million car crashes, leading to over 3 million injuries and 40,000 fatalities every year. A large portion of these crashes can be traced to the same root cause – driver distraction. How can we help drivers stay focused? Head-up display (HUD) technology is a great way to achieve this end.
The key to safer driving is obvious – keep your eyes on the road. In typical driving, the vast majority of a driver’s visual attention – roughly 85%-90% – is focused on the road ahead. The more time a driver spends looking at the road, the more likely the driver is to catch time critical events. According to the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, HUDs improve response times by one quarter to one second. While this may not seem significant, at 70 mph, this represents 25 to 100 ft reduced stopping distance, and the effect is cumulative! For each glance down, you increase stopping distance and time.
HUDs reduce the effort and time required to focus on the road and reduce glances down to driver information on the instrument cluster, thereby enhancing driver safety. By contrast, conventional head-down displays (HDDs) divert the driver’s attention from the road, delaying the driver’s reaction to events in the forward scene. In combination with all of the other safety technologies available in vehicles, HUDs reduce the number of missed warnings. Not only does HUD improve driver safety, it’s also a great comfort and convenience feature that users come to rely on once they’ve used a HUD.
In addition to improvements in reaction time, HUDs also improve driver behavior under both low and high mental workloads where the probability of detecting things in the forward scene is greatly improved compared to conventional HDDs. HUDs reduce distractions caused by driver convenience technologies like navigation systems, radios, speedometers, vehicle telltales and anything else that might divert attention.
Driving is largely a visual endeavor, and keeping the driver’s eyes focused on the road is the best way to address the problem of driver inattention as the principal cause of traffic collisions. Let’s hear it for HUD!