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ISA trials move to Spain. 20/2/04
ISA trials entered a new phase earlier this year with field trials designed to detect differences in driver behaviour in different parts of Europe. The latest phase of the EU sponsored PROSPER project, which began work in February last year, and which is primarily designed to develop European policy in relation to the use of the technology, is now in the process of comparing the attitudes of drivers in Hungary and Spain.

Driving data from 20 vehicles used in the Hungarian city of Debrecen in a trial ending in December last year, are to be compared with similarly collected data in the Spanish city of Mataró, when the latter's trials are completed in May 2004.

The trials are part of a larger examination of driver attitudes and the technology involved in ISA, encompassing seven European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Spain and Hungary.

According to official sources, an indication of the acceptance of the system is that 3 out of 4 of the drivers wanted to keep the equipment in their cars.

Two alternative systems of the technology are being looked at by the PROSPER teams. The first involves a warning that the speed limit has been exceeded via an active accelerator pedal (AAP), while the second relies on an audible beep signal (BEEP). The AAP is no more than a haptic throttle, on which the pressure required to maintain excessive speed is gradually increased by as much as a factor of 5. Both systems employ the usual GPS receiver and digital mapping systems, coupled with a visual display within the vehicle The effects on test driver behaviour are studied with the help of data logging in their own vehicles and the drivers interviewed on their experience.

The results from the field trials will be available at the end of 2004 but early indications from countries like Sweden, where large area trials have been conducted over a number of years, is that reaction is generally favourable. National politicians are, however, likely to be a good deal more cautious about any plans for the general introduction of the technology in spite of clear evidence of the link between excess speed and road safety.

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