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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 13, 2005

Driving Simulator Awarded $507,530 To Study Safety System

The National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) at the University of Iowa has received a $507,530 contract from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to examine the extent to which an average driver can take advantage of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems and how these systems affect the driver's ability to avoid crashes.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is an electronic, active safety system designed to help drivers maintain control of their vehicles under adverse conditions. ESC uses sensors that detect when the vehicle is about to lose control and applies independent brake pressure and throttle reduction to keep the vehicle in control.

Several statistical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of ESC in other countries. Recently, a first-of-its kind empirical study of ESC conducted at NADS showed that the presence of the system increased by 34 percent the number of drivers who maintained control of their vehicles during various accident scenarios on dry pavement. The NHTSA study will complement previous work done at NADS by examining in detail the driver's interaction with and acceptance of ESC, as well as the effectiveness of ESC in assisting drivers to avoid crashes under a variety of circumstances including wet pavement conditions. Understanding the basis for ESC's effectiveness, as well as the conditions under which it is most effective, will assist NHTSA in driving this technology towards the highest possible safety benefits.

Yiannis Papelis, principal investigator, says: "We are excited about the opportunity to further study ESC because of its potential for reducing accidents and eventually saving lives." Yiannis Papelis and Ginger Watson are the NADS principal investigators. The project will be conducted in close cooperation with NHTSA's Vehicle Research and Test Center, located in East Liberty, Ohio. Elizabeth Mazzae is the Contracting Officer's Technical Representative.

Work on the project will begin in early 2005. Drivers who would like to participate in a NADS study can call the NADS participant recruitment hotline at (319) 335-4719 or register online at Women are specifically encouraged to call or register online.

The NADS is the most sophisticated research-oriented driving simulator in the world. It was built to conduct research that will ultimately lead to reductions in the number of traffic-related deaths, injuries, and incidents of property loss on the nation's highways. The NADS, located at the University of Iowa's Oakdale Research Park, is a national shared-use facility owned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation and operated by the University of Iowa.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,; Program: Wendy Moorehead, NADS Director of External Relations, 319-335-4843