This fall, Design for America and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles partnered for a third year in a row to tackle reducing the dangers of distracted or drowsy driving! Five interdisciplinary teams from Michigan State University, NYU, Duke, Northwestern, and Case Western Reserve University worked to design solutions focusing on keeping teen drivers and shift workers safe and engaged on the road. On December 9th 2015, teams traveled to the headquarters of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to present their nine-week project.

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Smiles! Group shot at the Walter P. Chrysler Musem with DFA MSU, NYU, Northwestern, and Case Western Reserve University (Duke not pictured), DFA National Field Coordinator Rob, DFA National Fellow CC, and wonderful supporter of DFA-FCA partnership Marilyn Vala

Teams began by understanding the users of the issue. Teams went out into the community to interview end-users and various stakeholders to learn about their pain points and what research is being done in the field of sleep deficit and sensory reactions. From primary and secondary research, teams were able to uncover noteworthy insights and opportunities areas that could be improved upon.

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FCA executives checking out the prototypes installed in a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Some identified needs and opportunities are:

  • Distracted driving accounts for the number one cause of car accidents. Four out of five drivers have admitted to using their phone while driving. How can we reduce the amount of human to phone interaction while in the driver’s seat?
  • Distracted driving is subconscious for many and mundane or routine routes can cause inattention for drivers. One of the main sources of distractions for teens is connecting their phone to the car to listen to music while driving. How can we reduce the frequency that drivers pick their phones up while listening to music?
  • Many drivers who have experienced distracted driving were overconfident in their own capabilities while driving long hours. How can we make routine driving less monotonous and provide positive reinforcement for safe driving habits?
  • Shift-workers and those affected by drowsy driving often do not have the choice to avoid getting behind the wheel. How can we inform drivers of their level of drowsiness to help them make safer driving decisions?
  • 75% of shift workers suffer from disturbed sleep, often sleeping on average four to six hours which is up to four hours less than recommended hours of sleep to conduct a healthy lifestyle. Drowsy drivers have a hard time estimating their level of impaired function. How can we personalize the car environment to meet the needs of drowsy drivers?

At the FCA headquarters, teams were able to share their innovative ideas with top executives of FCA during the expo, with ideas ranging from aromatherapy to cellphone charging plates! Check out the photos of all the teams below and on our facebook album.

A special thanks to our sponsor contacts, Curt Edgar and Mike Angelidis, for all their hard work in making this project possible. Thank you to Marilyn Vala, who has supported the DFA – FCA partnership from the very beginning, for joining us again this year for the Expo as well. We appreciate your countless hours on overseeing the project from start to finish, from framing the problem and providing teams with valuable feedback to organizing the expo. We look forward to more collaborations to come!

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NYU
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MSU
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Northwestern
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Duke
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Case Western Reserve University