Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Parallel Parking Stress You Out? We May Have A Solution.

When purchasing a new vehicle what do you look for? Your criteria may contain everything from a price range and safety rating to a leather interior or extra cup holder. A new study released by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Ford Motors may motivate you to add another item to your vehicle checklist: parking assistant program.

A recent technology appearing in a number of new vehicles underwent a study to determine if the parking assistance has an effect on drivers’ stress levels. This proved to be a study important to many motorists as a Harris Interactive study revealed approximately 31% of drivers avoid parallel parking if at all possible.

The study observed 42 drivers’ stress levels with EKG monitors while parallel parking and backing into a tight-fitting parking spaces. As revealed by the study, these sometimes difficult parking maneuvers exerted less stress on the driver while using an automatic parking-assist system.

Drivers’ average heart rate decreased from 83 beats per minute when manually parking to 71 beats per minute while using Ford’s Active Park Assist technology. The average 12 beat per minute drop in drivers’ heart rate accompanied a 30% decrease in drivers’ perceptions of their own stress levels while using the assistant.

The parking assistant program utilizes sonar to determine if the vehicle will fit in the parking space and help to guide it into the spot. While parking the driver controls breaks and thrust as the computer turns the vehicle. For more information on the MIT study please visit the MIT Release at: MIT News.

MIT Joins Fight Against Distracted Driving

From Oprah’s National No Phone Day to commercials during your favorite sitcom, it is widely known cell phone use behind the wheel is a dangerous endeavor. A recent study by the American Automobile Association found the risk of an auto accident increases by approximately 50% while texting behind the wheel. According to a webinar hosted by Neustar 2.5 billion text messages are sent per day in the United States… too many of these from behind the wheel.

Ray LaHood, Secretary of the United States Transportation, has taken a firm lead in the fight against distracted driving. LaHood took part in the Washington No Phone Zone rally last Friday emphasizing the importance of putting cell phones away while driving. A largely useful suggestion LaHood has made is for driver’s to place their cell phones in the glove box before operating a vehicle. The Secretary has enlisted the help of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to find a technology with the ability to disable a driver’s cell phone use while not blocking passenger’s cell phone usage.

According to an article in the Washington Post LaHood’s research has uncovered the following facts:

  • Eight in ten drivers talk on the phone behind the wheel.
  • Cell phones are a factor in an estimated 342,000 auto accident injuries per year.
  • The cost of property damage, lost wages, medical bills and lost lives accrues to a whopping $43 billion per year.

Distracted driving is not an issue to take lightly. The Secretary visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge to personally request help in his fight against cell phone related distracted driving. LaHood challenged the students and faculty to build a car that will not crash, design a zero emission greenhouse gas vehicle, and create a green revolution changing the way energy is consumed and generated.

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