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How will technology save lives on the road?

21st September 2017

Companies like Google and Tesla are en route to revolutionising how we drive. As a company we’ve highlighted the dangers technology poses to your safety on the road in the past, but advances in tech are not only making our cars greener and more efficient but potentially, they are making our roads a safer place to drive.

In 2015, there were 1616 fatalities due to road traffic accidents and 20,038 severe casualties, and although reported accidents are slowly decreasing, in 2015 fatalities were reported to be down by 45% since 2005, driving continues to be a very real modern danger with our safety often in the hands of other motorists. We take a look at the emerging technology that could shape the future of how we drive and reduce the number of traffic casualties.

Dashcams

They say the camera doesn’t lie and in 2015 leading insurers made the move to accept ‘dashcam’ footage as evidence for compensation claims; which saw the sales of dashcams rocket by 918%. A dashcam is a small camera mounted inside your car which records the road as you drive. Although they have been criticised for giving a ‘one sided’ view, they have been applauded for allowing motorists to prove an accident was not their fault in the case of a claim being made against them. Dashcams are encouraged by insurers and with the extra scrutiny they add to driving, people are more aware that they could be caught on camera, could lead to safer roads for us all.

Pros:

        • Provides an objective record of an accident after the fact
        • allows us to study crash footage to make our roads safer
        • forces motorists to act with more care

 

Cons:

            • Provides a limited view of an incident
            • more useful after an accident than in prevention

 

Driverless Cars

Google is famously working on releasing a driverless car solution for the 21st century, an idea that has been met with mixed responses. In 2015, researchers predicted that driverless cars could save 300,000 lives per decade in the US. There are roughly 1.2 million fatalities every year in the world, resulting from traffic accidents. Google’s success will depend on the willingness of our society to move away from traditional motoring, as a mix of driverless cars and driven cars will make the project infinitely more difficult.

Driverless cars are set to have a range of fantastic features, such as passenger sensors and automatic personalisation, which will sense who is in the car and adjust things like seat height, radio and car temperature to user preferences. Most importantly would sense if and when, it was going to crash. A driverless car will assess how to react to situations in order to keep its occupant safe, and eliminate the margin for human error in car accidents, resulting in fewer casualties. Of course, the introduction of these cars will mean a whole host of other safety concerns, with vehicle security being a major one. Overall, the mass adoption of driverless cars will see driving decisions left to mathematics as opposed to human decision making.

Pros:

            • Removes the risk of human error
            • relies upon algorithms proven to result in safer driving

 

Cons:

            • Less control over our vehicles
            • Security concerns.
            • There is an ethical debate surrounding how these cars will be coded to make decisions that could, theoretically, kill a passenger in order to save many more in the event of a collision.

 

Traffic Light Hacking App

A Dutch company by the name of Dynniq is working with the city of Tilburg’s local council to develop an intelligent traffic system. Using their smart phones, pedestrians are able to give themselves more crossing time at traffic lights, allowing them to cross more safely. The pilot program has been targeted at the elderly but widespread adoption could see the app used to help teachers usher a large group of children across the street, or give ambulances a clearer path.

The smart system is part of a plan to make the city safer for pedestrians and cyclists. As an idea, it would certainly put control in the hands of pedestrians, but for it to work, would need driver attitudes to adjust. Laws and security would also need to be in place to prevent abuse of the system.

Pros:

            • Allows pedestrians to be in control of traffic,
            • encourages more people to walk and cycle rather than drive

 

Cons:

            • Could be easily abused as a system or overlooked by drivers.
            • Failures could see an increase in accidents.

 

Automatic Brakes

AEB systems (Automatic Emergency Braking) were introduced in the euro NCAP five-star award requirement for cars in 2016. Cars with AEB systems detect pedestrians or obstacles and automate the brakes in your car to prevent an accident. Thatcham Research has estimated that AEB systems over the next ten years could save 1,100 lives in the UK and prevent more than 120,000 injuries. AEB systems also detect obstacles when reversing. 25% of all road accidents happen when parking a car, and 75% of those parking accidents happen when the car is being reversed. The systems have the potential to add an extra layer of safety to our cars, providing us with a failsafe in potentially dangerous situations.

Pros:

            • Could save 1000s of lives and prevent injuries

 

Cons:

            • Could automatic braking lead to laziness? Should motorists rely on automatic failsafe’s over their own driving ability?

 

Inevitably, as technology evolves it will start to have a greater impact on road safety and will naturally have an impact on accident numbers and compensation, as we have already seen with dashcams.

As excited as we are for the future of motoring and road safety, there are still over 100,000 traffic accidents in the UK every year and we have some way to go in reducing those numbers.

If you've been involved in a car accident that wasn't your fault, our experienced team could help you claim compensation.