Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Dr. Paul T. Mountjoy
Dr. Marilyn Kay Malott
Dr. Jack Michael
Dr. Paul Wienir
The Deaccelerator is a behaviorally designed speed control device that utilizes punishment and reinforcement by way of a differentially imposed force schedule to the accelerator pedal of a motor vehicle when vehicle speed exceeds the preset speed. Specifically, increasing and decreasing accelerator pedal resistance is a negatively accelerated function of respective increases and decreases in vehicle speed as speed moves in excess of 1 mph beyond the preset speed. A lesser force schedule generates linear increases and decreases in accelerator pedal resistance as a function of respective increases and decreases in accelerator pedal depression once vehicle speed moves in excess of 1 mph beyond the preset speed. Finally, to aid the motorist in maintaining the preset speed, an accelerator pedal position control system is imposed whereby the depressed accelerator pedal and thus the motorist's foot is linearly extended with increasing speed from a potentially fully depressed position at speeds of 1 mph or more below the preset speed to a fully extended position when speed increases to 1 mph over the preset speed. This system provides foot support by utilizing a constant but yieldable force to limit the motorist's degree of accelerator pedal depression to the position required to maintain the preset speed. The accelerator pedal functions normally at speeds below the Deaccelerator's operational range.
In this study, a Deaccelerator was installed in a state owned vehicle used by faculty members at Western Michigan University for work-related travel. The Deaccelerator had a preset speed of 55 mph when the vehicle traveled on level and uphill road gradients and, due to speed control error, attained a speed of 56 mph on downhill road gradients. Data on highway speeds collected by digital recorders hidden in the trunk of the experimental vehicle showed that highway speeding was practically eliminated when an operative Deaccelerator was part of the experimental condition, with the vast majority of highway travel occurring at the preset speeds of 55 and 56 mph. Moreover, highway speeding, especially at the highest recorded speed category of 60+ mph, was substantial when an inoperative Deaccelerator was part of the experimental condition.
Schulman, Richard, "The Deaccelerator: A Behavioral Application of a Differentially Imposed Force Schedule to the Accelerator Pedal of a Motor Vehicle to Control Unlawful Highway Vehicle Speed" (1986). Dissertations. 2263.