Australia is becoming a safer place to drive a car. Despite a 24% increase in the number of registered vehicles registered, in the 30 years following 2017, there are 60% fewer road fatalities, 72% fewer passenger fatalities, 63% fewer pedestrian fatalities, and 63% fewer cyclist fatalities. Given there are more vehicles on the road, experiencing a reduction in the number of deaths becomes far more significant.
Speeding, alcohol consumption, driver fatigue, and inattention/distraction while driving are the leading causes of death in auto accidents. Carmakers have aimed at these causes and are mostly responsible for lowering the number of injuries and death.
Making better drivers
The driver’s primary responsibility is to be diligently watchful, keeping eyes on the road at all times. With numerous distractions—cell phones, children, gauges, stereos, and the like—car manufacturers have tackled this with a variety of solutions.
Minding the road encompasses a 360° area of blind spots, the distance between vehicles, road signs, gauges, and so much more. It can be overwhelming and compounded even further in demanding driving situations such as heavy traffic or adverse weather.
With audible or sensory alerts, carmakers have developed warning systems that assist the driver’s awareness of road hazards. Adaptive headlights, blind-spot sensors, and other collision-avoidance features are standard on many models today.
Adaptive cruise control uses sensors to ensure the driver keeps a safe distance and does not infringe too closely on drivers ahead.
Radar and laser technology are used within sensors to detect objects. Newer products forego radar and laser in favor of light detection and ranging known as lidar. This type of laser technology can, with great accuracy, see objects around the car.
Rear-ending accounts for about 80% of all collisions on Australia’s roads. To address these types of accidents, Volvo was the first to release autonomous emergency braking in 2009. The system slows or stops the car without driver assistance and can happen faster than a human can process the danger of the stopped vehicle ahead.
Lane-departure warning systems produce an auditory, visual, or haptic alert when a driver crosses (visible) lane markings. If the driver does not correct the position, lane-keeping assist will automatically steer the car into the proper lane. Lane centering keeps the vehicle centered in the road during challenging situations, but the lane markings must be visible (not covered in snow, for instance).
Many cars today come with a heads-up display in which gauges, warning lights, and GPS are within the driver’s line of sight. Also, some of the car’s features can be managed by voice control, further reducing the need to take one’s eyes off the road.
For the road behind, backup cameras became a standard feature on all new models sold in Australia after 2018. This backside view has reduced the number of incidents caused when the car is in reverse.
CES is an annual consumer electronics show held in Las Vegas. In January 2020, more than 170,000 technology-focused people attended to learn more about innovations of all sorts, including those in the automobile sector.
Mobileye, developed in Jerusalem, is currently installed in 20 – 30% of cars and all cars of the future will probably be equipped with such technology. An enhanced version of lane-keeping, Mobileye maps with other standard driver-assistance sensors.
DriverSense, also out of Israel, analyses the facial features of the driver, including blink rate, where the eye is looking, and yawning. It responds by sending the driver an alert to prompt closer attention.
Making better drivers
Hastened by the European Commission and other countries that have mandated cars being manufactured today include more safety features, innovation flourishes in the development of car safety features. Inventors, engineers, and manufacturers are meeting this government and public demand for safer, smarter vehicles.
For many people, a car will likely be the second-most expensive purchase they make in their life. Given the relationship, people have with their vehicles, and the dependence upon them, it’s no wonder they expect to be safe while operating them. Car manufacturers have made great strides in the past decade toward making car trips safer for everyone in the vehicle, whether crossing town or crossing country.