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Technology Used To Improve Traffic Flow And Road Safety

MARTA project. (Credit: Image courtesy of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya)

The Research Group in Mathematical Programming, Logistics and Simulation (PROMALS) and the Seat Chair of Innovation and Sustainable Development (Seat-UPC) create technological solutions to improve traffic flow, make driving safer and more comfortable, lower the accident rate and reduce traffic congestion and emissions of contaminant gases.

New advances will see vehicles equipped with sensors and interfaces which gather information on the traffic situation and display it on screen or alert the driver through automated voice announcements. The Seat-UPC Chair is involved in designing and fitting human machine interfaces (HMIs) and running automated tests of the electronic systems used in the MARTA project, which incorporate new technologies such as specialized image recognition applications.

New on-board sensors will be able to monitor the status of mechanical components such as brakes when a vehicle is in motion, while others will provide automatic control of driving speed and the distance maintained from the vehicle in front. Interfaces will enable data to be shared between vehicles, providing updated information on their position and speed every 200 meters. A system of nodes installed in the road network transmits the data to a mobility management center, where they are processed and used to maintain traffic flow by providing real-time information on congestion spots and suggesting optimum routes in the event of an accident.

The PROMALS group, attached to the Department of Statistics and Operations Research at the UPC, is looking at ways of using the data received by the management center. Its researchers are designing simulated traffic scenarios in which to test the new technologies developed under the MARTA project: a recent example is a traffic priority system in which the real-time data are used to determine the ideal intervals between traffic light phases across a given area, which optimizes traffic flow and reduces congestion.

The MARTA project has a budget of over thirty-five million euros and receives funding from the Center for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI). The project, scheduled for completion in 2011, is coordinated by the company FICOSA as part of a wider program run by the National Strategic Consortium in Technical Research (CENIT), and brings together experts and researchers from nineteen companies and nineteen scientific centers and national universities.

Source : sciencedaily


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Ensuring Junior Goes for a Mild Ride

Published: October 6, 2008

DEARBORN, Mich. — The Ford Motor Company calls its new safety technology for teenage drivers “MyKey.”

Truth be told, it probably should be called “MyParentsKey,” since the feature that Ford announced Monday will let parents slow down their children in the family car.

Like V-chips that restrict what children can view on television, MyKey allows parents to limit teenage drivers to a top speed of 80 miles per hour, cap the volume on the car stereo, demand seat belt use and encourage other safe-driving habits.

The MyKey feature will be standard equipment on the 2010 Ford Focus and eventually on all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models. Ford executives and industry experts say it is the first attempt by an automaker to provide parental controls on young people behind the wheel, where their inexperience and tendency to take risks can be deadly.

With 35,000 American teenagers killed in auto accidents in the last five years, the feature was welcomed by one advocate for teenage safety on the highways.

“This is a huge step in the right direction,” said Ellen Gaddie, director of JourneySafe, an outreach program established by the Gillian Sabet Memorial Foundation, which was started by the parents of a California teenager killed in a 2005 crash. “Ford has identified all of the things we consistently talk about. Kids speed. Kids don’t wear seat belts. Kids like to play loud music while they drive.”

MyKey can sound a chime whenever the vehicle travels above 45, 55 or 65 miles per hour, and prevent the driver from turning off safety features like traction control, which inhibits spinning tires. It can also be set to mute the radio and chime repeatedly until the driver is buckled up.

“Teens have the lowest seat-belt use,” said Susan Cischke, Ford’s group vice president of sustainability, environment and safety engineering. “So we allow parents to turn up the annoyance factor a little bit.”

Parents choose which of the restrictions to activate, and they take effect whenever a specific key is used in the ignition. There are no limitations when the master key is used.

A number of companies already sell aftermarket devices to track teenage drivers’ behavior and location, but most are intended to give feedback to the parent, rather than immediately to the driver. Some require monthly fees, and many can be outsmarted or removed by a knowledgeable teenager.

Because MyKey is free and might be viewed as less “Big Brother” than global-positioning devices that track a car’s every movement, safety advocates say it has broad potential to keep teenagers safer as they hone their driving skills.

“A system that is perceived as less intrusive may be more acceptable to teens and their parents,” said Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group financed by auto insurers. “If teens push back in a big way about these systems, they will be less accepted by families, and if families have a lot of conflict over systems like this, it does reduce the likelihood that parents will use them.”

Ford plans to collect data on the effectiveness of MyKey and hopes to persuade insurance providers to give discounts to families who use the system.

In a survey by Harris Interactive for Ford, 67 percent of teenagers opposed MyKey. But their opposition fell to 36 percent if MyKey led parents to expand their driving privileges.

Though MyKey imposes limitations on audio volume, Ford chose not to restrict other possible distractions in the vehicle, such as its Sync digital entertainment system, which links a cellphone or portable music player to the stereo and allows hands-free use with voice commands.

“It’s just recognizing that people are going to bring those devices into the vehicle and we can’t actually stop teens from using them,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s vice president of engineering for global product development. “So we want to give them the safest way to do that, which is provide voice activation control. If you make it too restrictive, people will just bypass the system.”

Because technology aimed at teenage driving safety is fairly new and has not been widely used, safety advocates are not sure of its effectiveness in preventing crashes and making young drivers more responsible. But they say it could give parents more peace of mind and discourage some obviously dangerous behavior.

Ford officials also noted that MyKey has some benefits unrelated to safety, like saving gas by making drivers slow down and keeping teenagers from cruising through neighborhoods with the stereo blasting. Andy Sarkisian, Ford’s safety planning and strategy manager for North America, also highlighted MyKey’s low-fuel warning, which lights up earlier than normal. He called it “a little thing for Mom and Dad.”

After lending the car on the weekend, he said, “how many of us have gotten into the car on Monday morning to go to work and there’s no gas?”

Source : NYtimes

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Kerugian Kecelakaan Lebaran Rp 4,8 miliar

Senin, 13 Oktober 2008 11:53

JAKARTA: Kecelakaan lalu lintas selama masa angkutan Lebaran sampai dengan H+7 mencapai 1.320 kasus dengan korban meninggal 616 orang atau turun 42% dari tahun lalu. Menurut data resmi Mabes Polri yang disampaikan ke Departemen Perhubungan sampai dengan kemarin, korban luka berat 780 orang, luka ringan 1.336 orang, sedangkan kerugian materi Rp4,85 miliar. “Kasus kecelakan tahun ini turun dibandingkan dengan tahun lalu yang mencapai 1.875 kasus, dengan korban meninggal 789 orang,” kata Kadiv Humas Mabes Polri Irjen Abubakar Nataprawira dalam laporannya kepada Departemen Perhubungan.
Jumlah kendaraan yang terlibat kecelakaan pada mudik Lebaran tahun ini sebanyak 2.377 unit meliputi 1.604 unit sepeda motor, 433 unit mobil penumpang, 215 unit mobil pengangkut barang, dan 125 unit bus. Total pelanggaran lalu lintas mencapai 295.230 kasus.
Organisasi Pengusaha Angkutan Darat (Organda) menilai lemahnya penegakan hukum di sektor perhubungan menjadi pemicu terbesar masih rendahnya tingkat keselamatan lalu lintas di jalan raya saat ini.

Lemahnya aturan
Ketua Prasarana Organda Rudy Tehamihardja mengungkapkan contoh paling nyata rendahnya penegakan aturan di sektor transportasi darat adalah pada uji kir kendaraan dan pemberian izin terhadap angkutan umum. “Pengusaha sebenarnya sangat mendukung gerakan pemerintah untuk mencapai zero accident, tetapi tindakan aparat di lapangan sangat jauh dari cita-cita tersebut,” ujarnya.
Menurut dia, pengujian kir kendaraan sangat rentan dengan uang suap sehingga kendaraan yang sebenarnya tidak laik jalan tetap diluluskan dalam uji tersebut.
Apabila hal itu terus dibiarkan, maka Organda menilai tingkat kecelakaan di jalan raya akan tetap besar mengingat keselamatan ternyata dapat diakomodasi dengan pemberian suap kepada petugas di lapangan.
Uji kir kendaraan adalah pengetesan kelayakan kendaraan sebelum melaju di jalan raya, baik dari sisi fisik maupun tingkat emisi yang dilakukan dalam periode waktu tertentu.
Masalah perizinan angkutan kota yang masih terus diberikan kepada pengusaha meski hanya memiliki satu armada juga menjadi pemicu terbesar tingginya tingkat kecelakaan lalu lintas.
Organisasi itu mendesak pemerintah pusat dan daerah untuk menghentikan pemberian izin baru kepada angkutan umum, karena saat ini sudah pada tingkat jenuh.
Organda mengungkapkan tingkat kecelakaan hingga mencapai 0% (zero accident) hanya dapat dicapai apabila seluruh komponen yang terlibat dalam transportasi angkutan darat ikut mendukungnya melalui penegakan hukum yang ketat.

Oleh Fita Indah Maulan
Bisnis Indonesia

Sumber : Harian Jogja Online

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Nyupir Sambil Nelpon? Bukan Masalah!

Reklame untuk menghindari pemakaian telepon saat berkendaraan yang dipasang pada sisi jalan tol harus tetap diperhatikan, meskipun teknologi telah semakin memudahkan.
Berita pada Jumat, 4 April 2008 | 06:37 WIB

PASTI masih segar dalam ingatan kita, beberapa tahun lalu –saat telepon selular (ponsel) mulai merebak dan bahkan beranjak menjadi kebutuhan primer yang tak bisa ditinggalkan–, Pemerintah DKI Jakarta sempat berencana menerbitkan peraturan daerah soal larangan mengemudi sambil menelepon.

Kala itu, rencana Perda ini diharapkan dapat “memaksa” pengendara untuk tetap fokus, dan tidak memecah konsentrasinya dengan bertelepon, terlebih menulis SMS. Berponsel sambil ‘nyupir’ memang dituding menjadi salah satu pangkal kecelakaan di jalan raya, terlebih di kota-kota besar.

Bahkan, sebuah studi yang dilakukan di Perth, Australia pada masa itu, menyebutkan bahwa pengemudi mobil yang menggunakan ponsel saat berkendara memiliki risiko empat kali lebih besar terlibat dalam kecelakaan yang berakibat fatal, dibandingkan mereka yang tidak berponsel.

Tapi bukan teknologi namanya jika tak bisa menjawab hambatan tersebut. Salah satunya dilakukan oleh pabrikan sound system asal Jepang, Pioneer. Mereka menggabungkan fungsi headunit, dengan fungsi telepon selular melalui koneksi bluetooth. Bluetooth sendiri telah lama dikenal sebagai piranti nirkabel jarak dekat yang digunakan untuk menggantikan kabel pada telepon selular.

Kompas.com mendapat kesempatan menjajal salah satu produk yang dilengkapi dengan fitur ini, yaitu DEH-P65BT. Di dalam tape mobil ini telah tertanam koneksi bluetooth, berikut mikrophone. Posisi mikrophone ini bisa dipasang sesuai kebutuhan untuk menghasilkan suara terbaik, entah di dashboard atau di bagian langit-langit di kabin mobil.

Kemudian, koneksi bluetooth pada ponsel tinggal diaktifkan, untuk menghubungkan kedua alat tersebut. Malah tersedia pula fitur auto connect untuk mempermudah proses pairing antarkedua alat. Syaratnya, koneksi bluetooth pada ponsel tak pernah dimatikan. Begitu kunci kontak berada pada posisi “on” kedua alat otomatis akan terhubung.

Selanjutnya, aktifitas mengemudi, dan memutar musik dapat dilakukan seperti biasa. Begitu ada telepon masuk, fungsi audio di dalam kabin akan mati, berganti dengan ringtone headunit, yang tersedia dalam tiga pilihan nada dering. Pengemudi pun bisa menerima panggilan itu dengan empat cara, yakni lewat tombol pada ponsel, tombol pada remote control, dan tombol pada headunit, atau langsung menjawab, jika fitur auto answer diaktifkan.

Setelah itu, suara penelepon akan keluar dari speaker di kabin mobil, dan percakapan pun bisa dilakukan sambil mengemudi. Hebatnya, tak ada distorsi suara meskipun pasti terjadi pantulan suara penelepon ke dalam mikrophone. Sejumlah responden yang dimintai komentarnya saat kami melakukan hubungan telepon dengan menggunakan fitur ini dapat mendengar suara dengan baik. Mereka tak bisa membedakan bahwa ternyata percakapan telepon tersebut mamakai medium headunit. Malah, saat uji coba dilakukan dari kursi samping dan kursi belakang pengemudi, suara dapat dengan jelas didengar oleh penelepon.

Lalu bagaimana jika ingin menelpon? Head unit ini menyediakan fitur speed dial, yang dapat dijalankan melalui remote control. Sebelum itu, kita harus memasukkan nomor telepon ke dalam memori headunit. Layaknya ponsel, headunit ini mampu menampung 400 nama pemilik nomor. Nama itu akan muncul begitu ada telepon masuk, atau keluar.

Setelah itu, kita tinggal menekan salah satu angka pada remote, diikuti dengan tombol joystick. Sesaat kemudian akan terdengar nada tunggu, dan bisa langsung berbicara begitu telepon diangkat. Atau, jika ponsel yang kita gunakan memiliki fitur voice dial, maka kemudahan ini pun bisa dipakai dengan headunit ini. Saat percakapan telepon berakhir, fungsi audio akan kembali berjalan seperti semula.

Fitur ini memang sangat membantu bagi mereka yang banyak menghabiskan waktu di dalam mobil, terutama untuk poin “menerima telepon”. Tapi, pengendara tetap tidak disarankan untuk melakukan “panggilan”, sekalipun menggunakan piranti ini. Karena saat melakukan “panggilan” konsentrasi pengemudi tetap akan terpecah, dan itu membahayakan. Jadi, menepilah sejenak sebelum melakukan panggilan telepon, agar Anda terhindar dari bahaya…


Sumber : kompas.com

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Deaths of Motorcyclists Rise Again

Published: August 14, 2008

WASHINGTON — The number of motorcyclist deaths jumped in 2007, accounting for nearly one in eight motor vehicle deaths, government safety officials said on Thursday.

Deaths of people in cars and trucks, on bicycles or on foot dropped by nearly 2,000 last year, pushing the overall death rate to a historic low. But deaths of motorcyclists surged 6.6 percent, to 5,154; 2007 was the 10th straight year of increase.

Experts say the trend is most likely to continue, as high gasoline prices will encourage some travelers to use their bikes more often, getting 50 miles for the $4 gallon of gasoline instead of 20 in their cars.

“We have seen the total motorcycle participation in vehicle miles traveled go up,” said Mary E. Peters, the secretary of transportation and a longtime Harley-Davidson rider.

“We might see more people moving to that mode of transportation,” Ms. Peters said. “We might see that data skew.”

Motorcycle ridership appears to be rising even as the total miles for all vehicles drops.

Total deaths in motor vehicle crashes in 2007 declined to 41,059, a drop of 3.9 percent compared with 2006. Deaths in cars fell 7.8 percent, and in light trucks 2.7 percent. Even alcohol-related deaths fell.

In recent years, the development of safer cars and improved highways has been racing against growing levels of traffic to keep the death rate steady. Last year the total miles traveled declined by about 0.6 percent, and total deaths dropped much more sharply. The number of deaths per 100 million miles of vehicle travel, dropped to 1.37, a historic low.

In 1966, the rate was above 5 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, and the number of dead was above 50,000.

Deaths on motorcycles hit a low of 2,116 in 1997. Since, they have risen 128 percent. Their share of crash fatalities has jumped to almost 13 percent from 5 percent.

The highway safety authorities say that about 75 percent more motorcycles are registered today than 10 years ago. They suspect each motorcycle is ridden more miles, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it does not have a reliable measurement of use.

And, safety officials say, many of the riders are middle-age or older men who rode when they were young, gave it up as they raised children and have recently gone back to the bike. “They think they still have the same reflexes,” said James Port, the safety agency’s deputy administrator.

Yet ridership has probably become more dangerous mile for mile. One reason is a decline in the number of states requiring the use of helmets. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, in 1975, 47 states required all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, but now only 20 do.

At the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the organization that conducts independent vehicle crash tests, Russ Rader, a spokesman, said motor vehicle deaths would probably continue their decline into this year. “A drop in highway deaths is always the silver lining in a down economy,” Mr. Rader said, with fewer trips to work and discretionary trips.

“We are the only industrialized country in the world where there is an organized effort to weaken or repeal motorcycle helmet laws,” Mr. Rader said. “That definitely is a factor in the increasing deaths.”

At the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, which is financed by the manufacturers, Tim Buche, the president, said a person killed on a motorcycle was 2.5 times more likely to be under the influence of alcohol than a person killed in a car and three times more likely not to have a proper license.

“There’s risks in everything in life, but the risks can be addressed,” Mr. Buche said, by training, licensing, riding sober and wearing protective gear.

source : The New York Times

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After Fatal Crashes, Police to Set Up Motorcycle Checkpoints

Published: June 29, 2008


DRIED roses and a smiling photograph, distortedly reflected in chunks of black plastic motorcycle parts crudely fashioned into a cross, mark the spot where Brian HoSang crashed and died on southbound Interstate-684 two months ago.

Sabrina HoSang, of Pleasantville, hopes the broken pieces of her brother’s 2005 Honda prompt other bikers to slow down. If not, she says, she thinks the new Westchester County police checkpoints singling out motorcyclists will prevent other crashes.

“It’s one step further to making the road a little bit safer,” she said. “Drivers who drive cars can also be dangerous, but if a person driving a car gets into an accident, their chance of surviving is greater than someone on a motorcycle.”

The county police agree and were inspired to begin a motorcycle safety campaign after three fatal crashes on Westchester’s winding parkways last year. The county has already had three motorcycle deaths this year: the 24-year-old HoSang on May 11; Barry Johnson, 42, of New Rochelle, killed on Fifth Avenue and Portman Road on June 6; and Carlos J. Cepeda, 24, of Yonkers, killed on the Bronx River Parkway on June 14.

The police expect serious accidents will keep happening, as ridership rises because of abundant summer sunshine and mounting gas prices.

“A lot of it is fuel prices, and then the more motorcycles people see, the more people want to become a part of it all,” said Bob Simpson, owner of the Smart Rider Motorcycle Safety Program, which offers classes in Poughkeepsie and Suffern.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports the number of registered motorcycles jumped to 6.68 million in 2006 from 3.9 million in 1996, with fatalities climbing from a rate of 55.8 per 100,000 riders to 71.9 per 100,000 riders. In contrast, while the number of registered passenger cars rose to 136.9 million in 2006 from 124.6 million in 1996, the car accident fatality rate dropped from 18.1 per 100,000 occupants to 13.0.

Mr. Simpson’s program teaches riders to avoid crashes by turning properly — 43 percent of fatalities happen on a curve, he said — braking, swerving and making themselves more visible on the road.

“This is one way to prevent problems, to educate yourself rather than just jump on a motorcycle, being taught by a friend or teaching yourself,” Mr. Simpson said, adding that enrollment has doubled this year.

The county police say they hope their parkway checkpoints will motivate more bikers to enroll in such programs, and to ensure they have the proper documentation and equipment.

Of 250 motorcycles stopped on the Hutchinson River, Cross County and Bronx River Parkways on May 25, the police issued 32 summonses and impounded six bikes. Each motorcyclist also got a fact sheet on safety requirements and recommendations, said Sgt. Brian Hess of the county police.

“You can’t make any mistakes on a motorcycle; one mistake can cost you your life,” he said. “In a car, you have built-in safety equipment, like airbags and safety belt. On a motorcycle, the only thing you have is the helmet, and usually it’s too late if it comes to that.”

Sergeant Hess said most riders had no problems with the checkpoints, complaining only that a few irresponsible bikers, especially younger riders who are new to the road, had given all of them a bad name.

Kurt Abisch, 57, founder of the Westchester Beemers Motorcycle Club, whose membership has grown 15 percent to 123 members this year, said he hoped the checkpoints curb reckless riding. But he also said he found it frustrating that his BMW motorcycle, which he uses for commuting and recreation, is perceived as more dangerous than a car.

“We always get harassed and stopped more often than anybody else by the cops,” Mr. Abisch said. Checkpoints “keep away the bad riders with no license, insurance or registration, but I hope they also check the automobile population for the same things.”

Ms. HoSang, who fondly described her younger brother as a daredevil who enjoyed trying stunts on the used bike he bought last summer, said she did not think a checkpoint would have saved his life. The police determined that speed was a factor in his accident, but based on what the friends riding with him described, her family is looking into whether a problem with his front wheel contributed to the crash.

Either way, Ms. HoSang said, her brother’s friends, including the four riding home with him that Sunday afternoon, have taken their own precautions in the wake of Mr. HoSang’s death.

“They all sold their bikes,” she said. “But some people still just take their chances.”

Taken from The New York Times.

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A Virtuous Cycle: Safety In Numbers For Bicycle Riders

It seems paradoxical but the more people ride bicycles on our city streets, the less likely they are to be injured in traffic accidents. (Credit: iStockphoto)
ScienceDaily (Sep. 2, 2008) — It seems paradoxical but the more people ride bicycles on our city streets, the less likely they are to be injured in traffic accidents.

International research reveals that as cycling participation increases, a cyclist is far less likely to collide with a motor vehicle or suffer injury and death – and what’s true for cyclists is true for pedestrians. And it’s not simply because there are fewer cars on the roads, but because motorists seem to change their behaviour and drive more safely when they see more cyclists and pedestrians around.

Studies in many countries have shown consistently that the number of motorists colliding with walkers or cyclists doesn’t increase equally with the number of people walking or bicycling. For example, a community that doubles its cycling numbers can expect a one-third drop in the per-cyclist frequency of a crash with a motor vehicle.

“It’s a virtuous cycle,” says Dr Julie Hatfield, an injury expert from UNSW who address a cycling safety seminar in Sydney, Australia, on September 5. “The likelihood that an individual cyclist will be struck by a motorist falls with increasing rate of bicycling in a community. And the safer cycling is perceived to be, the more people are prepared to cycle.”

Experts say the effect is independent of improvements in cycling-friendly laws such as lower speed limits and better infrastructure, such as bike paths. Research has revealed the safety-in-numbers impact for cyclists in Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, 14 European countries and 68 Californian cities.

“It’s a positive effect but some people are surprised that injury rates don’t go up at the same rate of increases in cycling,” says Sydney University’s Dr Chris Rissel, co-author of a 2008 research report on cycling.

“It appears that motorists adjust their behaviour in the presence of increasing numbers of people bicycling because they expect or experience more people cycling. Also, rising cycling rates mean motorists are more likely to be cyclists, and therefore be more conscious of, and sympathetic towards, cyclists.”

Safety concerns are among the most significant barriers preventing Australians from cycling, including among those who cycle regularly, according to the report, titled Cycling: Getting Australia Moving. Despite this, over 1.68 million adults cycled in 2006, an increase of almost 250,000 since 2001. During this period, Australian capital cities experienced an average 22 percent increase in bicycle journeys to work. The city of Melbourne led with a 42 percent increase, while the city of Sydney lagged the field with a nine percent increase. 2006 figures reveal that 12,132 Sydneysiders cycle to work.

Dr Rissel says transport authorities should highlight the fun, convenience and health and environmental benefits of cycling, rather than what he views as an undue emphasis on danger and safety messages, which can deter cyclists: “We should create a cycling friendly environment and accentuate cycling’s positives rather than stress negatives with ‘safety campaigns’ that focus on cyclists without addressing drivers and road conditions. Reminding people of injury rates and risks, to wear helmets and reflective visible clothes has the unintended effect of reinforcing fears of cycling which discourages people from cycling.”

Adapted from materials provided by University of New South Wales, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.


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