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Science fiction meets road safety

   Science fiction meets road safety

The future will soon be here.

In-car technology, which had previously been confined to the pages of science fiction novels such as I-Robot, is now set to become a fixture of everyday life in the next decade.

From 2022, all cars sold in the EU will be required by law to be fitted with a number of automatic safety features such as autonomous emergency braking systems, driver drowsiness and attention warning systems and intelligent speed adaptation, which are designed to help prevent accidents.

The new regulations will be applied in the UK too, with the Department for Transport (DfT) having previously said new EU rules that have been provisionally agreed would apply to the UK despite Brexit.

Here are just some of the ground-breaking new safety features that will soon be seen in vehicles across Europe:

Autonomous Emergency Braking

Autonomous emergency breaking (AEB) does what it says on the tin. AEB systems use sensors to detect obstacles ahead and assess whether a collision is likely. The unit will usually start by warning the driver that a collision is impending by using dashboard warning lights or an audible alarm. However, if the driver fails to take action the vehicle will automatically apply the brakes. 

Intelligent Speed Adaptation

Last year, 314 fatal crashes occured in which someone exceeded the speed limit or drove too fast for the conditions. Driving at higher speeds also means that drivers have less time to identify and react to what is happening around them, prolonging the time it takes for the vehicle to stop, and raising the risk of a crash occurring. Yet this is set to change with the approval of new EU regulation that states all vehicles on the road will be fitted with intelligent speed adaptation (ISA), which will remind the driver to slow down if they are travelling above the local speed limit. In similar fashion to AEBs, the vehicle will step in and slow down itself down if the driver does not respond to the prompts. When it is rolled out in 2022, this ISA technology has the potential to be lifesaving. However, RoSPA recommends that motorists familiarise themselves with our top 10 tips to avoid speeding.
In-Car Breathalysers

According to a survey conducted earlier this year, more than 1.6million motorists in the UK admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol. Drink-driving continues to be a leading cause of road accidents in the UK and in much of the rest of the world. However, cars on Europe’s roads in near the future will have the facility to be fitted with an “alcohol interlock installation” – a device which prevents the engine from starting if it detects the driver is over the legal alcohol limit. An alcohol interlock is similar to a breathalyser used by the police and monitors a driver’s blood-to-alcohol ratio. This device will remove choice from the equation if drivers are tempted to break the law and drive while intoxicated.

Drowsiness and Distraction Monitoring

Driver fatigue causes thousands of road accidents each year; research shows that it may be a contributory factor in up to 20 per cent of road accidents and up to one quarter of fatal and serious accidents.
In-vehicle drowsiness and distraction monitors are designed to alert you when you’re feeling tired. They do this by detecting physical movements like slow eyelid closure, the rate of blinks, and a nodding head. More advanced systems might also monitor your heart rate or brain function – and can learn your usual driving patterns, detecting when you’re driving erratically. This is a necessary innovation because as we pointed out recently, experiencing fatigue while driving can be a quiet killer.

While advancements in technology that help prevent accidents are most certainly welcome, especially alongside legislation which makes them a legal requirement, we should be aware that there is still scope for human error and for technologies to fail.

With this in mind, there is still good reason for motorists to brush up on their driving skills. RoSPA offers training and support for people who are looking to take their advanced driving test. RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders (RoADAR) aims to reduce road accidents by encouraging an interest in road safety and by improving driving standards, knowledge and skill. To accomplish this goal, RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders has more than 50 local groups that will provide free training to help you improve your driving skills and prepare you to take the ultimate advanced test.

Everyone thinks that advanced training is expensive, but joining a local group to be trained to an advanced test standard can cost you as little as £20.  

Improvements in road safety technology are most effective when combined with greater knowledge and awareness of driving hazards.

Rebecca Needham , road safety and evaluation Officer , RoSPA
Posted: 11/29/2019 2:55:07 PM 0 comments


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