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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 14, 2005

Lee Receives $1.1 Million For Driver Distraction Research

John D. Lee, associate professor of industrial engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering and researcher at the UI Center for Computer-Aided Design, has received a $1.1 million contract from Delphi Corporation, Inc., to help reduce highway crashes caused by driver distraction.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that driver distraction -- including such activities as cell phone usage -- accounts for some 25 percent of all accidents. Called SAVE-IT (SAfety VEhicles using adaptive Interface Technologies), the research program aims to reduce distraction-related accidents partly through the development of a safety warning system.

Lee, also a human factors researcher in the UI Public Policy Center, says the contract, second in a series of such contracts, has already made significant progress by identifying the kinds of crashes that may be alleviated by interactive technology. Initial results show that even voice-based systems that do not require the driver to look away from the roadway make drivers slower to respond to critical situations. Initial results also show that drivers' performance improves when information systems adapt how they present information according to the traffic situation.

Lee, who joined the College of Engineering in 1998, is an internationally recognized researcher in the field of driver distraction with additional research interests in driver response to in-vehicle technology and computer modeling of driver performance.

The research program, a cooperative effort sponsored by NHTSA and coordinated by the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Volpe National Transportation Center, also involves use of the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) at the University of Iowa. The SAVE-IT program utilizes Delphi's state-of-the-art work in driver state monitoring, sensor suite development, data fusion, advanced human machine interfaces and adaptive integrated safety systems. Other members of the team include General Motors, Ford, and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu