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Will Cyclist Detection Technology Succeed Where Human Behaviour Keeps Failing?

14th May 2014
In the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, an additional £42 million was announced for the improvement of road cycling infrastructure and safety. Currently, the Government are in consultation with key organisations over the requirements for delivering a real improvement to cycling safety on the road.

According to the Department for Transport, 3,270 cyclists and 5,440 motorcyclists were killed or seriously injured on British roads between October 2011 and September 2012.

By December 2012, the cyclist death toll rose by 14 per cent on 2011 to 122, a five-year high. With a total of 106 fatalities taking place in a collision with a motor vehicle, and 19,200 cycling injuries reported each year, inevitably cyclist compensation are expected to be on the rise again in 2013.

There have been repeated calls for greater tolerance and understanding between motorist and cyclist and even schemes such as the “Vulnerable Road User Safety Policy” and the Metropolitan Police’s “Exchanging Places” initiative. However, it may be left to car manufacturers to provide another piece of on-board technology that aims to control drivers from causing accident and injury to cyclists.

At the 83rd International Motor Show, which is being held in Geneva, 7th- 17th March 2013, auto manufacturer, Volvo is showing new sensor technology, which detects collision risk with a cyclist and automatically sounds an alarm and applies the brakes.

As an enhanced version of Volvo's pedestrian detection system, which was first launched in 2010, the system is also able to detect a cyclist who suddenly swerves out in front of a car's path. The technology – which is factory fitted only - operates by a radar unit installed in the car's grille and a camera located between the windscreen and back view mirror to detect collision threats.

In addition, Volvo are also working on producing a version by 2020, which would also detect animals, such as horses and deer, to avoid collisions.

A further innovation from Volvo could also significantly help to prevent serious cycling injuries and fatalities. Launching in May 2013 is the first car to be fitted with an airbag beneath the bonnet, which will inflate to cover around a third of the windscreen when front bumper sensors detect contact with a cyclist or pedestrian.

While cyclist awareness will continue to be encouraged to help change motorist attitudes and behaviours, it seems sensor technology may once again be an answer to solve human problems.