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Release: Immediate

UI researcher to represent U.S. at International Standards Organization

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Daniel McGehee, director of the Human Factors Research Program at the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, has been chosen by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to serve as U.S. representative to the International Standards Organization (ISO) on the subject of design standards for automotive crash avoidance systems.

McGehee, a transportation safety and human factors expert, will collaborate with other researchers in the scientific community and the automotive industry in developing a U.S. design standards policy on automotive crash avoidance systems. During the two-year study period, he will represent the U.S. position to the ISO, which dictates international policy for automobile design and safety standards.

As a part of the design standards project, the SAE, which sets standards for the U.S. automotive industry, awarded McGehee an $80,000 grant to develop the U.S. position on forward collision warning systems, which can help prevent rear-end collisions. McGehee, who has conducted extensive design testing and evaluation research on such warning systems, notes that one-quarter of all automotive crashes are rear-end collisions.

He says that the system immediately warns the driver that a rear-end collision is imminent, and, in some cases, may even automatically apply the brakes. "Sensor technologies now exist that may help reduce or lessen the severity of rear-end crashes, so designing the driver interface to be usable and effective is important," McGehee says.

He is also currently the principal investigator of a four-year National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research contract on rear-end collisions. The study examines how drivers typically behave and perform in a rear-end crash and how elements surrounding the crash are perceived. "The results of this study will help determine the best driver interface designs for crash avoidance systems that promote displays of information for the driver that are effective and easy to understand," he says.

Formed in 1987, the UI Public Policy Center is an interdisciplinary research unit dedicated to the scholarly examination of social, technological and economic policy alternatives. The Center's human factors research explores how people interact physically and cognitively with machines, including such subjects as antilock brake safety, improvement of nighttime driving visibility, use and misuse of child safety seats and prediction of driver fitness. Along with human factors research, the center has programs in transportation, economics, and health policy research.

12/4/97