Millions of lives? A bold statement to make, you may think. In Britain alone, nearly four thousand people have died in automobile accidents over the last two years and in the United States there are about ninety people killed every day. That means that many tens of thousands of people are killed every year, worldwide, and it is on the increase.
New technologies are being incorporated into new vehicles every year and once these vehicles are available as used cars to the masses, it will impact on death statistics over decades yet to come.
Here are a few safety features that are already being installed in the new generation of cars.
Electronic stability control is a complex braking system that uses other safety systems, ABS, for example, to stabilise the vehicle when the driver makes an error. ESC is most beneficial where braking and steering is involved in emergencies. By combining existing and new technologies into one package, it is expected that the number of lives and injuries through traffic accidents will be significant. This system is, perhaps, the greatest evolution of braking technology so far. Manufacturers have their own versions of ESC, so you may have heard of Dynamic Stability Control, or Vehicle Stability Assist. Dynamic Stability control, according to the Mazda website, makes the new MX-5 safer than any previous model.
In an emergency, a driver may not put enough pressure on the brake pedal for maximum braking efficiency. Brake assist judges, by the speed at which the brake pedal is depressed, whether a driver is performing an emergency stop. It will take over the braking functions to provide maximum stopping power and shorter stopping distance. The European Union is considering making Brake Assist mandatory on all new vehicles as it is expected to save the lives of thousands of pedestrians as well as those in the vehicle.
New vehicles have the technology to monitor the state of the driver. Since driver fatigue is a root cause of many accidents, the vehicle will warn the driver when it detects that the vehicle is not staying in the correct lane positions. Sleep related accidents account for between ten and fifteen percent of road accidents and an even higher percentage of motorway accidents. Building this technology has been a big challenge to manufacturers.
The technology is refined for making the driver pass a breath test before the engine will start, and the time will come where is is standard to all new models; of that there is little doubt. One manufacturer offers this technology as an option on new models and others are set to follow.
ABS has been around for a number of years now and has saved many lives. It comes as standard on most new cars and the technology is tried and trusted. Driver training helps ABS to do its job correctly. In an emergency, the driver must break as hard as they can and try to steer out of trouble while the brake pedal is vibrating strongly underfoot.
All of these features combined are set to make motoring safer than ever before. There may even come a time when driving is as safe as flying; statistically, anyway.
Image credit: Tim Wang