How Is Road Safety Affected By Technology?
It recently emerged that, worldwide, around 1.25 million road deaths occur every year. This number will just continue to increase if measures aren’t taken to improve road safety. In fact, as Huffington Post reported, it is feared that if no noticeable action is taken, road accidents could be the 7th most common killer in the world by 2030.
Every day new technological innovations are being announced, all with different purposes and functions. A lot of ideas have been voiced that would contribute greatly to improving road and vehicle safety, Meon has named a few below:
TECHNOLOGY HELPING TO PREVENT/RESOLVE HUMAN ERROR
It is a widely known fact that one of the greatest causes of road deaths comes down to human error. Whether it be over-confidence, too little confidence, or illegalities, our thought process/actions can mean life or death when on the road. With new technologies emerging to tackle this specific issue, the number of road deaths should decrease dramatically if implemented.
One technological advance that appears to be very a very popular, and controversial, topic at the moment is Artificial Intelligence within cars (or self-driving cars). There are five official levels of self-driving cars, ranging from no automation to full automation. Anything from level 1 up takes away various parts of human usage.
This can be anything from Automatic cars to Fully-fledged cars that take themselves from A to B with no help needed. Any reduction of human control is said to increase safety as it removes further risk of human error. There is also, however, the counter argument of not being able to rectify any mistakes the system itself makes, which could potentially lead to serious consequences. However the risk of human error, compared to a system error, is much more likely to occur.
Another form of technology that helps to reduce human error is Telematics. This covers a number of systems, some of which you may already be very familiar with.
For example, a Black Box. This is simply a device that can be fitted into a car (usually to combat the rising prices of insurance), which measures data from the vehicle, such as speeds, braking, locations etc. Black boxes work in two ways to improve road safety, firstly by encouraging the driver to drive much more responsibly as they are being recorded and could not only face a fine, but see an increase in insurance prices due to the increased risk of an accident. Secondly, as authorities can monitor the ‘type’ of driver that the user is, and collect date from everyone with black boxes to help future campaigns etc.
TECHNOLOGY DETECTING AND PREVENTING ROAD AND BRIDGE HAZARDS
Although not as common of a cause as human error, environmental and natural hazards are still a very important risk to the safety of our roads, as can cause large accidents almost unexpectedly. Technology is ever-evolving and hopes to one day eliminate the risk of unexpected environmental hazards appearing suddenly. This comes down to a few different technology types, for example one of them being smart road materials, using self-healing properties.
As described in Meon’s previous blog, detailing the top 5 road innovations of the future, self-healing roads are still a very new concept. However they provide an innovation that would have a dramatic effect on the safety (and maintenance costs) of our roads. The idea is that if any small amount of damage is done to a road’s surface, the material would have the ability to ‘regrow’ and return to its original form (a flat road surface). This would be a massive step in improving road safety, as road damage is a large cause of car accidents and breakdowns, and most forms of road damage start off small but don’t get the repair they need until it is much too late.
Another technology that is continuously developing and helping spot any road and bridge hazards is road sensors. These are used to remotely monitor and report the status and conditions of surfaces to authorities and data analysis sensors. Road sensors allow authorities to know when and where any road damage either has occurred or is occurring right now. This IoT technology can now help transportation organisations to transition from reactive toward proactive measures.
Overall, technology is continuously improving more and more, and continues to prevent road accidents and reduce the risks road users face every day. The future of transport provides a safer, more efficient road system, and we will eventually expect to see road accidents at a near-zero. Keep your eyes peeled for the latest innovations and technological breakthroughs, designed to prevent and protect our roads from causing any more casualties.
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