Australian TAC SafeCar Project

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Australian TAC SafeCar Project
General information
Type: Field operational test
Tested system/service: Intelligent Speed Adaptation
Countries: Australia ? test users
? partners ? vehicles
Active from 06/1999 to 08/2005
Michael Regan
Monash University
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The State of Victoria has made strong gains in reducing road trauma over the past decade through a cooperative approach by its lead road safety agencies and a focus on driver behaviour, enforcement and infrastructure.

The Transport accident Commission (TAC) believes that technological advancement is one of the key areas where significant road safety gains can be made.

The SafeCar project is a world-first collaboration between the TAC, Ford Australia and Monash University accident Research Centre (MUARC). The project evaluated the technical operation of selected Intelligent Transport System (ITS) technologies, driver performance and driver acceptability.

The aim of this project was to stimulate demand in Australia by company fleet car owners, and in the longer term by the general community, for in-vehicle ITS technologies that have significant potential to reduce the incidence and severity of road trauma.

Phase 1 of the project culminated in the identification of several in-vehicle ITS with significant potential to reduce road trauma and property damage in Victoria. In Phase 2, two Ford passenger cars were equipped as prototypes with these technologies. In Phase 3, 15 Ford passenger cars were equipped with a sub-set of these technologies: intelligent speed adaptation; following distance warning; set belt reminder and reverse collision warning. During Phase 4, MUARC evaluated behavioural adaptation to, technical operation of, and user acceptance of the technologies equipped to the 15 Ford fleet cars. The vehicles were driven by 30 drivers, each of whom drove a vehicle for about 17,000km. The systems were programmed to turn on and off at pre-set times and an on-board data logger was automatically recording vehicle speed, headway and other safety-related parameters several times a second during the trial. User acceptance of the technologies was also scientifically assessed.

Key milestones of the project

  • Phase 1: Identification of candidate ADAS technologies likely to have large safety benefits.
  • Phase 2: Fitment and pilot testing of ADAS technologies identified in Phase 1 to two pilots vehicles.
  • Phase 3: Equip 15 Ford passenger cars with Intelligent Speed Adaptation, Following Distance Warning, and Seatbelt Reminder systems.
  • Phase 4: Run FOT and associated simulator study (on Intelligent Speed Adaptation effectiveness).

Details of Field Operational Test

Start date and duration of FOT execution

Started in February 2003 and finished in March 2005.

Geographical Coverage

Melbourne (AU) and state of Victoria.

Link with other related Field Operational Tests


  • Evaluate technical operation of some ADAS technologies
  • Evaluate driver attitude to and acceptance of these technologies
  • Determine impact of technologies on driving performance - separately and together
  • Estimate safety and other benefits
  • Ultimately, stimulate societal demand for ADAS


  • Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA), Following Distance Warning (FDW) and Seat Belt Reminder (SBR) all had a positive effect on driving behaviour.
  • But ... these effects did not persist when the systems where turned off.
  • The speed reduction effects of ISA were more pronounced when ISA operated in conjunction with FDW - but not vice versa.

Lessons learned

Activity 1: Convene teams/people

  • Don't let sponsor co-manage FOT - complicated, timely and costly
  • Choose contractors with backup
  • Keep steering committee in the loop
  • Over-resource rather than under-resource

Activity 2: Aims, objectives, research questions, etc...

  • Talk a lot with people who have run FOTs

Activity 3: Develop project management plan

  • Budget more money and time than you think necessary
  • Bring on side those who can't see the point of FOTs

Activity 4: Stakeholder communication

  • We underestimated media interest
  • Didn't anticipate requests for early data

Activity 5: Study design

  • Didn't anticipate cut in project size
  • Too many questionnaires
  • Keep questionnaires simple, and relatable to logged data

Activity 7: select/obtain vehicles

  • Much easier to use production systems in production vehicles

Activity 8: Obtain systems and functions

  • Selecting, sourcing and procuring systems very time consuming

Activity 9: Data collection and transfer

  • Too much driver involvment, e.g. flash cards
  • Not enough computer grunt for boot up and system operation
  • Not enough spare parts in stock

Activity 11: Equip vehicles with technologies

  • Not all systems operate identically across vehicles

Activity 12: Driver feedback systems

  • Fuel dockets - terrible problem

Activity 13: Data storage and management

  • Didn't decide early what to do with post-project data

Activity 14: Acceptance testing

  • Lots of flat batteries
  • Corrupted flash memory cards over time

Activity 15: Recruitement strategy

  • Company drivers a nightmare to recruit and keep
  • Women harder to recruit than men
  • Hard to adhere to ethics requirements for company drivers

Activity 16: develop driver training and briefing materials

  • Very time consuming

Activity 17: pilot testing

  • Not long enough to reveal some problems

Activity 18: Run FOT

  • Don't assume that systems are working and recording data
  • Drivers need regular reminding and follow up if you want them to do things for you
  • Automate subjective data collection if possible, e.g. use internet

Activity 19: Data analysis

  • Run reality checks on data regularly to ensure they are "clean"
  • Sponsors may want supplementary analyses done

Activity 20: Write minutes and reports

  • Don't allow sponsor review of final deliverables to drag out

Activity 21: Disseminate findings

  • Sponsor delayed dissemination
  • No funding left for major EC-style workshop

Activity 22: Decommission FOT

  • Lost momentum at end - took a while to implement recommendations. Not enough lobbying.

Main events


Summary, type of funding and budget

Cooperation partners and contact persons

The TAC SafeCar project is a joint research, development and evaluation project involving as key partners the Victorian Transport accident Commission, Ford Australia and the Monash University accident Research Centre (MUARC).

The project brings together a broad range of local and international supporting partners from government and industry including Autoliv, Barker Technics Pty Ltd, Bosch, Digital Device Development Group Pty Ltd, Intelematics, OzTrak, PC Host, the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, VicRoads, Victoria Police and Wiltronics Research Pty Ltd.

Applications and equipment

Applications tested

  • Intelligent Speed Adaptation
  • Following Distance Warning
  • Seat Belt Reminder


  • 15 ADAS-equipped Ford vehicles - SafeCars
  • 9 corporate car fleets from in and around Melbourne

Equipment carried by test users


Test equipment


Pre-simulation / Piloting of the FOT

Method for the baseline

Techniques for measurement and data collection

Recruitment goals and methods

  • 23 car fleet drivers aged 25 to 64 years.
  • Each participant drove a SafeCar for 16,500 kms.
  • Equated to approx. 5 months driving per driver.

Methods for the liaison with the drivers during the FOT execution

Methods for data analysis, evaluation, synthesis and conclusions

Sources of information

Final reports are available here: