The use of DHM based volumetric view assessments in the evaluation of car a-pillar obscuration

This paper concerns the development of a new volumetric vision assessment for Digital Human Modelling (DHM) and its application to transport research. The research was commissioned by the UK Government who identified an ongoing concern with the potential for car A-pillars (A-posts) to obscure driver’s vision and be a contributory factor in road accidents. Road accident scenarios were identified from UK accident data, modelled and then evaluated within the DHM environment SAMMIE. A new assessment method was developed that creates a 3D projection of the volume of space visible through an aperture, or reflected through a mirror. Using these projections vision was assessed for the scenarios using three different category M1 vehicles (cars). The assessments identified that A-pillar obscuration could have been a contributory factor in the accidents. The research also highlighted that if the driver was aware of the obscuration it could be relatively easily negated. Conclusions indicate that the volumetric vision assessment is a very useful tool and much more illustrative than the more traditional 2D ground plots of visibility. In addition, car A-pillars form a potential obscuration to vision and could lead to accidents especially when combined with factors such as inexperience, or tiredness.