Cell phones and interactive dashboard computers have increased the incidence of distracted driving. Even if you never use your phone while you’re at the wheel, you could end up in a car crash that wasn’t your fault.
“Although texting while driving is illegal in many states, some drivers absolutely cannot resist the impulse to read or reply to a text message,” according to an article from Gruber Law Offices, a personal injury attorney in Milwaukee that’s seen its fair share of car accidents caused by texting drivers. “This is one of the most dangerous of all driving activities, as it requires about 5 seconds of attention for even a short text, over which time the vehicle moving at 55 mph will travel the length of a football field.”
Other technology may be the best way to fight back. Dozens of tech tools could help to reduce the 10 million vehicle collisions that occur across the U.S. each year. Here are five of the most effective inventions.
1. Crash-Avoidance Technologies
A machine can react more quickly than a human. Several useful accident-avoidance technologies will keep you from harm’s way in the nick of time.
- Forward Collision Systems (FCS): If you’re not paying sufficient attention and traffic has slowed in front of you, FCS radar will alert you of the closing gap, and ideally give you enough warning in time to slow down and avoid an accident. Some systems will automatically take control of the vehicle and either avoid the collision or reduce the severity of impact. According to Clark.com, vehicles with FCS experience 15 percent fewer crashes than those without.
- Lane Departure Warning Systems: According to research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, lane departure warning systems have reduced the rates of sideswiping, head-on crashes, and single-vehicle accidents by 11 percent. The rate of injury has decreased by 21 percent. “This is the first evidence that lane departure warning is working to prevent crashes of passenger vehicles on U.S. roads,” Jessica Cicchino, the institute’s vice president for research, said in a statement. “Given the large number of fatal crashes that involve unintentional lane departures, technology aimed at preventing them has the potential to save a lot of lives.”
- Blind Spot Detection Systems: Here’s another extremely useful tool for avoiding sideswiping, head-on collisions, and other accidents. As the name suggests, these detect motorists and objects within your blind spot and send an alert if you try to change lanes at that moment.
2. Apple’s “Do Not Disturb” Update
The latest update from Apple iPhone software introduced a feature that prevents drivers from receiving phone notifications while they’re in motion. This includes phone calls, texts, and app notifications.
“It’s all about keeping your eyes on the road,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s head of software engineering. “Instead of seeing all those notifications, we have this new user interface for you. We think this is going to be a real important step in safety in the car.”
You can imagine the implication if drivers, particularly teens and young adults, were to implement this feature.
3. Smart Car Computer Systems
When smart car computer systems first appeared, they were often clunky and made it difficult to get to your destination. As you can imagine, fiddling with the GPS, Bluetooth connections, and other features on the screen were all distracting activities for a driver.
Now vehicles with smart computer systems limit your choice of interactions while driving. For example, they don’t allow you to do complex activities such as pairing a device while the car is in gear. They also have highly effective voice-interaction systems so you can perform hands-free tasks while you drive.
4. Driverless Vehicles
Driverless vehicles are a hot topic in vehicle technology these days, and with good reason. This technology could revolutionize everything about how cars and trucks operate on the road, especially with regard to vehicle safety.
Reports from McKinsey & Company estimate that we can minimize traffic collisions by 90 percent once driverless vehicles become mainstream. Self-driving cars are deemed a safer alternative because they remove human error from the equation. Researchers expect them to save hundreds of thousands of lives.
“By midcentury, the penetration of [autonomous vehicles] and other [advanced driver-assistance systems] could ultimately cause vehicle crashes in the United States to fall from second to ninth place in terms of their lethality ranking among accident types,” says the McKinsey report.
5. Adaptive Headlights
Adaptive headlights make the roadway more visible. As you turn your steering wheel, the headlights will rotate to match your angle of view. That way, you’re not changing lanes in the dark or turning into an unlit area.
This technology might sound insignificant, but picture yourself turning on to a dark street in a rural area. You wouldn’t be able to see livestock or wildlife without this.
The same goes for a public street when a car or object is parked on the road without illumination. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, this technology has helped to reduce vehicle accidents by 10 percent already.
The cumulative effect of these technologies represents an incredible advance in modern safety. Fatalities and injuries in vehicle collisions are falling as consumers support and use the various new tools.