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Miami University Is On The Road To Safer Driving

Seventy percent of U.S. goods are moved by trucks. In the last decade the number of crashes hasn't decreased. Miami researchers are trying to predict driver fatigue as a way to intervene before a crash.

It's no secret the majority of crashes happen when drivers are tired and distracted. Miami University professors are trying to figure out the best way to intervene and make roads safer.

Assistant Professor of Information Systems and Analytics Fadel Megahed had to call on computer scientists to help him read all the information. J.B. Hunt Transport Services, one of the nation's largest trucking companies, supplied billions of data points to researchers at Miami, St. Louis University, Auburn and John Hopkins including speed, length between vehicles, braking and whether or not there was an accident.

Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Data Management Karen Davis got a Google grant to help her manage the data. She says once you get more than two million rows of data, Excel won't read it. "It's so much data we were mailing around hard drives."

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
Fadel Megahed and Karen Davis look at a map of trucker routes in the U.S.

Megahed is building predictive models around driver fatigue. "I think the standard is going to be being able to monitor fatigue on the individual level. The alternative is doing nothing, so we're trying to come up with a more proactive framework," he says.

One possibility could be personalized driver instructions from the trucking company saying, "Take this route given this time and these weather conditions and pull over at these times for breaks."

Credit Miami University
Undergraduates Alison Tuiyott and Lucas Harris received funding from the National Science Foundation to work on the study.

Over the next five years the researchers hope to implement the technologies in the field. Megahed says, "A lot of companies tend to have a really open mind about sharing safety best practices across their industry and this is something that we think our work should promote."

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.