Cars have been around for a long time now, yet traffic accidents have remained very common around the world, including the United States. Despite regulations to reduce accidents, road traffic crashes are still the leading cause of death of Americans between the ages of 1 and 54.
Globally, the number of people killed on roadways reaches an average of 1.35 million each year. More people die from vehicular crashes than from HIV/AIDS.
The economic cost of nonfatal and fatal injuries resulting from vehicular crashes is estimated to become $1.8 trillion from 2015-2030.
Individuals, too, have to carry the financial burden of being involved in a vehicular crash. The property damage, as well as the hospital bills from the resulting injury and, if needed, payment to a car accident attorney if they want to demand monetary compensation from the offending party, a traffic accident can be costly.
But, it is not a hopeless case. One by one, new technology is being added to cars and incorporated in traffic management to reduce the incidence of traffic accidents. Here are some that are already in use or will soon be in use on the road.
Vehicles Communicating with Each Other
Cars are becoming smarter, and soon, they will be able to exchange data for protecting their passengers. V2V, or vehicle-to-vehicle, communication is a new technology wherein two or more vehicles within a certain distance of one another will send relevant information, including speed, direction, location, and breaking status. It enables greater awareness of the driver, particularly about factors that may lead to an accident, such as blind spots, lane changes, intersections, and left turns.
It has been in development for years and, soon, it will be a key feature in modern vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires all future automobiles to become capable of V2V. Right now, only one U.S.-made care has V2V enabled: the Cadillac CTS.
One study estimated that, if V2V becomes more common on the road, over 9,300 deaths per year can be prevented.
Automatically Slowing Down Before a Crash
Sometimes, a collision is caused by negligence. The driver checks a text or a notification on their phone, momentarily taking their eyes off the road, and ending up crashing at another vehicle. A person looking at a commotion outside their car window does not realize that the light has turned red or the vehicle in front of them has stalled.
Simple mistakes often turn into tragic consequences when on the road. A system that can measure the distance between a vehicle and another vehicle in front or other obstructions can save lives. With a forward collision system in place, the vehicle will automatically slow itself down regardless of a negligent driver’s inaction to minimize the impact of a crash. It will also give the driver time to refocus their attention on the road and interfere to stop the collision.
One study found that forward collision warning (FCW) reduced the number of front-to-rear car crash rates by up to 27%. The number of injuries went down by 20%.
If coupled with a low-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB), FCW could have prevented about 1 million crashes in the United States in 2014.
Wet Roads Becoming Less Dangerous to Drivers
During heavy rain or heavy snowfall, the roads become a hazard. The presence of water, ice, or snow removes friction, which leads to drivers losing control of their vehicles.
A recently-published paper found that rain significantly increases fatal motor accidents. When precipitation is falling, the likelihood of a fatal crash increases by 34%. Every year, these accidents claim the lives of 35,000 in the U.S.
Having traction control systems can make roads safer regardless of the weather. It works by monitoring the spin of the wheels; if it notices that one wheel is spinning faster than the rest, it will either apply an automatic braking system or cut the engine power of that wheel. The goal is to stop the vehicle from spinning out of control.
A Vehicle that Drives Itself
Self-driving vehicles are the future of driving. Although the technology is still very far from becoming the normal way to travel, some visionaries believe it will populate the roads one day.
Self-driving vehicles eliminate accidents caused by human error. Computers are not prone to distraction and, therefore, have a greater capacity to focus on the road. They can also take in information about their surroundings, analyze the situation, and immediately make decisions to prevent accidents and injuries.
When self-driving cars start treading the roads, the technology will significantly reduce the number of accidents involving vehicles. It might not completely eradicate car crashes, but it can save thousands of lives in the future.
Technology is constantly being developed and introduced to improve the lives of humans. Although right now, car crashes happen frequently and claim the lives of millions of people around the world, there might be a day when accidents on the road become a rarity and traveling by vehicle will be far safer.