The introduction of advanced driver assistance and information systems goes hand in hand with an increase in information that can or must be communicated to the driver. There are different approaches to prevent the user from being overwhelmed or distracted from traffic, such as multifunctional displays, changing displays that highlight and center currently relevant information as well as information management.

An information management system categorizes systems and information based on urgency, distraction, relevance to safety, and whether they were triggered by the driver or the vehicle. The second integral part of the information management system is its assessment of driver drowsiness and the driving situation. A well-rested driver in a relaxed driving situation (such as driving at 80 mph on a freeway in little traffic) can process more in-vehicle information than a fatigued driver in inner-city rush-hour traffic.

The design of information management systems includes establishing and testing principles of output logic of information and the order of output.

The principles of output logic:

  • While driving, road safety takes priority over economic criteria, the driver’s information needs and the communication needs of others.
  • There must not be any distractions in potentially critical situations (e.g. when turning off a road).
  • The driver’s information needs take priority over the communication needs of others (e.g. phone calls).

The order of output takes into account both user requirements and safety aspects:

  • Any autonomous intervention by the vehicle (risk of collision, interference with vehicle dynamics) takes precedence over all other communication.
  • Currently relevant output by the navigation system takes precedence over fleet management systems, driving information, phone calls or similar systems.
  • Fleet management information takes priority over driving information requested by the driver.
  • In the basic settings, driving information requested by the driver takes priority over the phone. As the importance attached to these two components is very user-specific, such settings can be changed to suit individual preference.
  • A phone (hands-free device) can only generate output if no other system is currently doing so. It is up to the driver to decide whether to interrupt an ongoing call in order to listen to incoming new information.

Two important lessons have been learned from test drives with and without information management as well as with and without adaptive cruise control (ACC) with Stop & Go function:

  • During test drives with these systems, the time spent looking at the center display and the speed of driving on the freeway both increase. The driver serves as a kind of information manager and maintains attention at a constant level.
  • In spite of this change in behavior, the systems lead to a reduced number of traffic offenses, which demonstrates the positive effect of driver assistance systems and information management systems.


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Wimmer, Martin: "Entwicklung und Erprobung von Mensch-Maschine-Systemen im Kontext der automatisierten Fahrzeugführung". Dissertation UniBw, 2010.

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