FMCSA wants to study how drivers interact with automated systems


How drivers interact with Level 2 and Level 3 automated driving systems is the subject of a study proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). According to a Filing of the Federal Register on September 21.

“This is a driving simulator study with a series of questionnaires that will assess how commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers engage with Automated Driving System (ADS) Level 2 (L2) and Level 3 (L3) of the Society of Automotive Engineers – VMC equipped”, according to the FMCSA filing. “About 100 VMC drivers will participate in the study. The study will examine the effect of engaging in secondary tasks not related to driving, control transfer and driver behavior training in utility vehicles equipped with ADS.

See also: FMCSA Invites Comments on ELD Revisions

Fifty drivers for each level would be used in the study, which would be conducted using questionnaires and driving simulations. A recent FMCSA study of VMCs equipped with ADS found that the systems are more prevalent in passenger vehicles. But the technology is beginning to be implemented in commercial vehicles, prompting the FMCSA to commission the study.

While Level 4 automated systems are used by self-driving trucks, lower levels of autonomy provide driver assistance, which the FMCSA has called “an environment conducive to overreliance.” An L2 vehicle provides longitudinal and lateral support to the driver; however, the driver is still responsible for driving at all times. At this level, engaging in secondary tasks other than driving can be very detrimental to driving performance, as the driver may not recognize and react to hazards in a timely or appropriate manner.

In the filing, the FMCSA said “the role of distraction is unclear” in Level 3 vehicles. “The driver assumes more of a supervisory role and has full control of the vehicle in a limited number of situations,” according to the agency. “When an L3 vehicle alerts the driver that assistance is required, the driver must have situational awareness to regain full control of the vehicle. Engagement in secondary tasks other than driving may prevent the driver from maintain situational awareness of the driving environment.

Data would be collected over two study sessions. The three main objectives of the FMCSA are:

  • To determine the effect of distraction on CMV drivers of L2 vehicles.
  • Determine the impact of control transfer on VMC drivers in L3 vehicles.
  • Develop and evaluate a training program designed to decrease levels of distraction that have been identified in CMV drivers in L2 vehicles and designed to improve control transfer issues that have been identified in L3 vehicles.

The government is accept comments on this study proposal until 21 November.

Effectiveness of third-party CDL tests

The FMCSA seeks to collect information to determine the effectiveness of third-party testing programs related to Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) skill and knowledge testing; and minimum testing standards for CDL skills and knowledge testing, according to a Filing of the Federal Register on September 21.

Earlier this year, new commercial driver training regulations came into effect – known as Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) – to standardize how to obtain a CDL. “The FMCSA currently prohibits the same third-party entity from serving as both trainer and examiner,” according to the agency’s filing. “Current prohibitions limit the ability of jurisdictions to increase training capacity. This has resulted in the more frequent use of third-party entities to fill the gaps between CDL demand and a jurisdiction’s ability to provide training and examinations.

Third-party training and testing can help increase the ability to attract more drivers to an industry facing labor shortages, FMCSA noted. However, the agency said there is little research on driver performance based on the type of training they received: third-party or in-jurisdiction.

The CDL program has also been challenged by fraud associated with current testing patterns, the agency wrote in its filing. According to the FMCSA, maintaining proper oversight and auditing of third-party training providers remains a challenge for state driver licensing agencies.

To address these information gaps, FMCSA is conducting a project – “Third-Party Testing Effectiveness and Minimum Standards for CDL Knowledge and Skills Testing” – to evaluate the effectiveness of the ELDT program, assess the performance of providers of third-party training and verify/validate compliance with ELDT minimum standards. This project aims to answer the following eight research questions:

  • Is there evidence of an increase or decrease in fraud among third-party reviewers based on pass rates and subsequent security histories of CDL holders who have been tested by third-party testers?
  • Are there significant differences in third-party test results over CDL tests?
  • Would it be possible to conduct a future study on the security impacts of delegating CDL knowledge testing to third-party testers based on available data?
  • How does the driving history of drivers who received behind-the-wheel training (pre-ELDT requirements) compare to those of drivers who have met the new ELDT requirements?
  • How does the driving history of drivers who received theoretical training (pre-ELDT requirements) compare to those of drivers who have met the new ELDT requirements?
  • How do driver proficiency test pass rates before ELDT compliance compare to driver pass rates after the ELDT compliance date?
  • Are there any identifiable safety benefits that have been realized by adopting the AAMVA CDL 2005 test model?
  • Are there any external factors preventing the SDLAs and the CDL community from realizing the full potential safety benefits of the AAMVA CDL 2005 test model?

Comments on this offer can be done until November 21.


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