Safe Driving Solutions
Grade Level: 9th – 12th
Length of lesson: 90 minutes/ 5 days
Subject Drivers Education
Focus and Review:
We will review basic laws of driving. We will discuss the importance of following the
regulations set by the state of North Carolina. We will discuss North Carolina State
driving laws and requirements set forth by NC for drivers license requirements in regard
Students will simulate the experience of driving in conditions with poor visibility due to
weather. Students will learn about new technologies that improve driving safety by
reading and discussing the attached article “In a Road That’s All Eyes, the Drier Finds an
Ally.” In groups students will research various aspects of highway safety and measures
to reduce driving fatalities. Each group will create a short presentation citing reasons a
particular measure would reduce fatal highway accidents.
Teacher input and Guided practice:
Teacher will divide students into pairs and give each pair a stretch of gauze about 18
inches long and a marker. Explain to the students that they will be simulating the
experience of seeing in fog. Begin by asking one student to tie a piece of stretch gauze
bandage around his or her head so it covers the eyes. The other student will write a
message in large block letters on an 8 x 11 sheet of paper. The student with the sign
should stand as far away as possible in the room and hold up the sign then slowly move
towards the other student until he or she can read the message. The students should pace
off this distance and record it. Repeat the procedure but this cut off the lights in the
classroom and use a flashlight to illuminate the message. Walk toward the other student
till he or she can read the lighted message and record the paces. When all students have
completed the task they should return to their seats. Record some of the distances on the
board. As a class discuss the following questions: 1. What would it be like to drive a car
with so little visibility? 2. How would this affect a driver’s ability to navigate in a car, to
see the edges of the road, or to see pedestrians and other cars? 3. Would lights make it
easier for drivers to see where they are going? /Should drives use their high beams? 4.
Besides fog what other conditions make it difficult to drive? 5. What solutions might be
devised to help you in dangerous conditions? Read and discuss the attached article.
Discuss in length the technology used and developed.
Explain to the class they will be working on a special highway safety task force. This
task force has the responsibility of drafting a new policy and technology
recommendations that will become the centerpiece of a future highway safety bill aimed
at reducing the number of fatal crashes on state highways. This new highway bill should
address safety standards for cars to be operated in North Carolina as well as guidelines
for future highway renovations.
Divide the glass in two main groups: Vehicles and Highways. Subdivide the vehicle
group into three divisions: Impact, Navigation, and Handling. Subdivide the highway
group into two divisions: Traffic and Surfaces. Using all available resources each of the
groups will begin by researching the specific questions. (Give each student a handout of
questions) Based on their findings, each subgroup should make a rough draft of
recommendations they think should be included in the new highway safety bill. Include
in the rough draft specific reasons why each recommendation will reduce highway
accidents. Include incentive measures for inspiring the development of new technologies
that might reduce future highway accidents.
Each group will develop a power point presentation to present to the class. Include each
persons name in small print at the bottom of the slide the person contributed to. (There
should only be 1 or 2 names per slide) Each person will include a short summary of
recommendations for a future highway safety bill.
Each person will write a one – two page essay on the following question:
Would you support legislation to reduce a vehicle’s ability to go above the speed limit?
Why or why not?
Assessment and Grading:
Students will be evaluated based on participation in group research, class discussions,
thoughtful completion of summary recommendations for a future highway safety bill, and
20 Copies of “In a Road That’s All Eyes, The Driver Finds an Ally”
20 Copies of research questions
10 2” x 5 yard gauze “conform” stretch bandage cut into 18 inch lengths.
Computers (Book Computer lab for 1 week)
Resources you may use:
www.nhtsa.dot.gov/, www.drivers.com/Top_Safety.html, www.aaafoundation.org/home/
Note: Information for this lesson plan was adapted from The New York Times Learning
Questions to be researched
1. How many people die in car crashes each year?
2. What are the major causes of highway driving accidents?
3. What are some ways these accidents could be avoided?
4. Why is driving at night particularly dangerous for inexperienced drivers?
5. What are some weather conditions that make driving particularly dangerous?
6. What is considered the safest passenger car on the road today?
7. What is considered the safest SUV on the road today?
8. What do the crash test dummies test for?
Each subgroup should address the following questions:
How do airbags reduce the injury from a collision?
Do airbags work as well as seat belts?
Does a driver or passenger need a seat belt if a car has airbags? Why or why
In addition to seatbelts and airbags what other new inventions might reduce
injury due to collision?
In addition to bumpers what new inventions might be used on the outside of a
car to reduce the impact or incidence of collisions?
How do drivers typically navigate a car down the road?
What driving condition impairs a driver’s visibility?
What is GPS?
What advantages does the OnStar system afford drivers of GPS equipped
What new inventions could be used to enhance a driver’s ability to navigate in
Why does a car need a suspension system?
How does the suspension system affect how fast and steady a car can be
Why might a monitoring system, such as embedded cameras, want to check
the tread wear on a tire?
What would be the effect of a worn out tire on a driver’s ability to steer a car?
What new technologies might improve the handling of cars in difficult
weather and road conditions?
What are some examples of way photovoltaic cells and other illumination
technologies can be used to illuminate highway signs and traffic markers?
What precautions would you recommend to drivers in busy traffic?
What precautions should drivers take in work zones?
What precautions should drivers take when entering or exiting highway
What technology solutions might make these traffic conditions safer for
Why are potholes and narrow highway shoulders dangerous to drivers at high
What road surface would work the best in wet or icy conditions?
How should a road surface be configured to allow water to drain quickly?
How level does a road need to be?
How do steeply pitched roads (up and down) affect driving?
From The New York Times
May 13, 2004
In a Road That's All Eyes, the Driver Finds an Ally
By IAN AUSTEN
ABOUT 12 years ago, Martin Dicks was trapped in dense fog during a harrowing four-
hour commute to his job as a firefighter in central London.
"Virtually all I could see on the road was a cat's-eye reflector every now and then," Mr.
Dicks said, recalling his trip down one of Britain's major highways. "I figured that if I
could make the cat's-eyes more visible, I could probably save more lives than I could in
the fire service."
A back injury forced Mr. Dicks out of the fire department shortly afterward, giving him
the time to pursue that goal. His training as an electrical engineer provided the necessary
Now, after perfecting illuminated markers that are embedded in the road surface to guide
motorists through bad weather or warn of dangerous conditions, Mr. Dicks's company,
Astucia Traffic Management Systems, is going a step further. Its latest creation is an
embedded stud equipped with a camera that catches speeders, monitors traffic for
criminals or stolen cars and even checks for bald tires on the fly.
"Nobody knows it's a camera or a speed trap," Mr. Dicks said of his latest creation.
Mr. Dicks's original idea was quite simple in concept. He wanted to create an illuminated
road marker containing its own power source, a solar cell. At night or in bad weather,
light from approaching vehicles would generate enough power to light up the marker,
which consisted of light-emitting diodes. An illuminated marker would be more visible
than a plain reflector, and the idea was that a car passing over the markers would cause
them to stay illuminated long enough so that they would provide a warning trail of lights
for any vehicles close behind.
The trouble, at first, was the technology available in the early 1990's. Photovoltaic cells
were not as efficient as they are today. And at the time, Mr. Dicks recalled, "the concept
of a white L.E.D. was nowhere."
Working mostly with family members at first, Mr. Dicks produced a prototype marker
within two years. He dodged the white L.E.D. problem by combining the glow from red,
green and blue arrays. The group not only overcame the limitations of solar cells, but also
managed to engineer markers that turned red to warn when the gap between two cars was
Mr. Dicks said the technology both impressed and alarmed British government highway
"They were frightened about everyone using the product on roads from one end of the
country to the other," he said. "They thought it would make their budgets disappear."
The first markers cost roughly twice the price of conventional embedded road studs. As a
result, their use was restricted at first to especially fog-prone or dangerous sections of
roads as well as crosswalks, including some in the United States.
Mr. Dicks was not the only person with a desire to illuminate to road markers. After a
friend struck and killed a pedestrian in 1991 at a crosswalk in Santa Rosa, Calif., Michael
Harrison developed a system that uses flashing L.E.D.'s in the road surface to make
crosswalks more visible. The company he founded in 1994, LightGuard Systems, now
has about 700 installations in the United States.
A study of 100 illuminated crosswalks by Katz, Okitsu & Associates, a traffic
engineering firm based in Southern California, estimates that adding the blinking L.E.D.'s
to crosswalks can reduce pedestrian accidents by 80 percent.
The original Astucia markers were glued onto the road surface. That left them vulnerable
to snowplow blades and to constant pounding from car and truck tires.
Mr. Dicks wanted to put the markers into holes drilled into the road surface. The key, he
said, was finding self-healing resins for the top lenses that would be flush with the
surface and subjected to much wear and tear.
"It's like running your fingernail on a rubber sheet," he said of the plastics' behavior. "The
mark it leaves goes away."
Advances in solar-panel technology also allowed Astucia to develop markers that could
store electricity all day and then constantly illuminate particularly dangerous sections of
roads at night.
Other features followed. Optical systems inside the casing are able to monitor the
atmosphere for fog. Electrical resistance detectors can check for standing water. The
addition of a thermometer allows the marker to predict ice.
But getting high-resolution digital cameras into the flush-mounted housings was a more
difficult task. It ultimately required the development of a special series of lenses that in
effect allowed the camera to look upward and forward from its subsurface location.
The cameras (the system can use either normal or infrared sensors) provide remarkably
detailed images, according to Mr. Dicks. "You can clearly see everything underneath a
vehicle, although I'm not sure why you'd want to do that," he said.
The police, however, are likely to be interested in seeing the license plates of vehicles
traveling above the speed limit or through red lights. To that end, Astucia has developed
a system that is operating on a highway in Scotland. It employs three embedded cameras
to give front, rear and side views of passing vehicles. Other embedded sensors project
two infrared beams over the road that are used to time traffic and determine its speed.
The images and the speed data travel under the road by cable to a computer. It in turn
relays the data by satellite to Astucia's offices.
The system is currently being used to monitor traffic slowdowns. When it detects them, it
turns on illuminated markers farther up the road as a warning. Mr. Dicks said that its
speed measurements were accurate within 0.5 percent, well within the tolerances
demanded for traffic enforcement.
Similarly, he said, the systems can be combined with optical character recognition
software to automatically track stolen vehicles or cars believed to be used by suspected
criminals or terrorists.
The United States branch of Astucia began demonstrating the camera system - which
costs about $50,000 for a package of three cameras, sensors and supporting electronics -
to police and highway officials less than a month ago. John Kerridge, the subsidiary's
president, reported considerable interest in the system for both traffic and broader law
enforcement. But he added that public resistance could be one obstacle to its adoption.
"We all break the law regarding speeding," Mr. Kerridge said. "The system may leave a
bad taste in motorists' mouths at the beginning. But when their insurance starts going
down and stolen vehicles start getting recovered, the benefits will overcome that."