Emotion Detector Technology to Identify Driver Road Rage In the Works

For some drivers, the aggravations of driving cause them to respond in inappropriate ways and make them a potential danger to the rest of us. Aggressive driving, also known as road rage, is one of the leading causes of accidents that result in serious injuries and deaths on Georgia roadways, according to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

Several tech companies are working on versions of road rage prevention technology. According to Wired.com, one of those, EPFL, has created a prototype that uses cameras mounted over the dash to detect emotion in a driver’s face. Though these devices seem novel and like tools out of the future, they could be quite useful.

The on-board emotion detector analyzes the driver’s real-time facial expressions, comparing them with a database of expressions that the detector has been taught to identify. It’s looking for feelings of stress or anger, feelings it was “taught” to identify after looking through photos and videos of people who were angry and disgusted, both while driving and in other situations.

In testing, the device was able to identify the irritation and disgust in 90 percent of tests run indoors and 85 percent of those run in vehicles. When it failed, the failure was attributed to the driver’s abnormal expression of anger, not the machine’s error.

Another similar program, called the Emotion Detection System, is closer to being ready for release. This system comes from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and uses a similar infrared camera mounted behind the steering wheel.

More than just recognizing road rage, this tool sounds an alarm and begins playing soothing music when aggravation is detected, according to CBS Sacramento.

Road rage is a real problem.

WebMD reports that more than half of all drivers admit to experiencing road rage at some point. Most of them likely didn’t act on it, but for those that do, the chances of being involved in a serious accident are great.

Georgia laws define aggressive driving as harassing, intimidating, injuring or obstructing another driver by following too closely, obstructing traffic, lane changing or reckless driving.

As many as half of fatal crashes involve one or more unsafe behaviors associated with aggressive driving, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

What makes some drivers react differently than the rest of us? It’s their inability to handle their frustrations in a healthy manner. If you frequently find yourself frustrated behind the wheel, you can channel that frustration effectively by:

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Leave the house with ample time to arrive at your destination
  • Play soothing music
  • Check yourself—recognize your feelings of frustration before they turn into anger
  • Remember, other drivers are likely just as tired of the traffic as you are.

And if you have a conflict with someone who is raging, stay calm. Being targeted by someone with road rage can be frightening. Do your best to get out of their way and let them pass. Do not engage them or respond. If the aggressive driver refuses to back down, call 911.

Apps and tools that will identify and help prevent road rage are in development, but they aren’t here yet, and there’s no telling how well they’ll work for those of us who get the angriest behind the wheel.

For some people, snapping out of traffic-induced anger will take much more than calming music, it could take a serious accident. People injured in accidents caused by an aggressive driver should understand their legal options.