Navigating to Safety
Updated: Apr 1, 2021
Road navigation systems and are now widely used in the form of smartphone applications, commonly known as “apps.” The road navigation application has evolved since its beginnings, from providing drivers with turn-by-turn route information to finding the shortest route between sets of origins and destinations (mainly the route with minimum travel time). Thus, the benefit of using navigation apps is not limited to guiding drivers who are unfamiliar with their routes; it also helps to minimize travel times, alleviate traffic congestion, and reduce energy consumption and air pollutant emissions.
As would be expected from driving assistance systems, road navigation apps can improve traffic safety through the turn-by-turn guidance it provides for drivers who are unfamiliar with routes. However, there are unintended negative consequences of using navigation apps that transportation engineers need to consider. The negative safety impacts of navigation can be the potential distractions that can hinder drivers’ reaction times, riskier lane-changing behavior, and degradation in the performance of older drivers while using navigation apps. Nevertheless, the negative impacts of navigation apps are not limited to these concerns. As navigation aim to find the shortest path between a beginning and an end point, they can, therefore, misguide drivers, such that they take routes which may minimize travel time but, concurrently, carry a greater risk of crashes. Navigation apps can guide drivers onto roads that have higher crash risks, given the higher number of traffic interruptions and conflicts, higher chances of exceeding speed limits, and poorer geometric designs. This implies the necessity of considering safety in route-finding.
Here is a 3-minute presentation of my work on this topic: https://vimeo.com/498156084