Every year around the world, at least one million people are killed by vehicle-related incidents, and millions more are injured.
Drivers, insurers, lawmakers and healthcare professionals all want safer roads and highways. Accidents, even minor ones, can have a serious impact and fewer accidents would mean fewer traumas, injuries and deaths. Auto industry executives are particularly motivated to make roads safer: jobs are at stake.
Fortunately, there is emerging technology that may significantly curtail accident statistics. For leaders in the auto industry, now is a vital time to watch how new technology can make our roadways safer. For companies in the industry, the following safety developments and trends can also be a differentiator.
What’s Trending In The Auto Industry?
At least 85 percent of drivers confess to sending text messages and talking on the phone while behind the wheel.
With statistics like this in mind, Toyota recently unveiled a system for keeping smartphones out of the hands of drivers. The company’s FT-4X concept has a slot on the dashboard that locks in a smartphone and connects it to the car’s internal navigation system. It’s very similar to Android Auto and Apple Car Play systems that mirror phone functions on dash-mounted screens, but Toyota’s system seems much safer as it won’t permit drivers to operate their phones except through button- or voice-control.
Drivers can’t see everything from behind the wheel, and many companies are using driver-assist technology to compensate for that issue. For example, Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology uses a couple of cameras on the windshield near the rearview mirror to identify differential speeds of items in front of the car. These work in with the car’s lane-departure warning and lane-assist systems, and automatic-braking assistance, braking the car if the driver’s foot is on the gas in a potential accident situation.
While this system isn’t a completely new concept, Subaru is now putting it into lower-priced cars, which compels competitors to do the same in their non-luxury models.
One of the more innovative safety features to emerge lately is the speed-dependent headlights on the 2018 Lincoln Navigator. These low-beam headlights widen and shorten at slow speeds, so drivers have a more useful field of illumination in residential or urban spaces. The headlights also extend and narrow at high speeds. Lincoln has said it will also incorporate Amazon Alexa into the Navigator, with the virtual assistant significantly lowering the reasons to glance at a smartphone while behind the wheel.
While fully-automated car may still be a few years away, automated safety features are here and they are here to stay.
Driver-assistance systems in many of the latest car models will likely form the foundation for future automated driving features. For instance, lane-departure systems could connect to other vehicle systems and allow for a partially-automated freeway assistant that keeps to a desired speed.
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