|Is the crash free future already here?|
|Friday, 03 February 2012 10:26|
Arlington, Virginia -- February 3, 2012 -- Vehicles that warn drivers of hazards, put the brakes on for them, and keep themselves in their lanes already are on the road. Cars that can talk to each other are just over the horizon. Is a world without collisions just around the corner?
Not quite. It’s true that safety features being introduced now could potentially eliminate millions of crashes. But even if these features were capable of preventing all crashes — and right now they’re not — they won’t be available in the vehicles most people drive for many years to come.
A new report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) shows that it typically takes three decades for a promising safety feature first introduced in a few luxury cars to spread through the fleet. More precisely, it will take at least that long before 95 percent of vehicles on the road could have a given feature, either because it came as standard equipment or was offered as an option. For example, the authors of the study predict that it won’t be until 2016 that 95 percent of all registered vehicles could have frontal airbags, even though manufacturers began adding frontal airbags in meaningful numbers during the mid-1980s.
Forward collision warning, which was rolled out in the United States in 2000, could take even longer. If it continues to follow its current trajectory, the crash avoidance technology won’t be available in 95 percent of registered vehicles until 2049, HLDI predicts.
“Technology is changing fast, but it takes time for it to reach the majority of vehicles,” says Matthew Moore, an author of the report and vice president of HLDI, an Institute affiliate. “New features that prove beneficial aren’t instantly available in all new models. And once they are, not everyone rushes out to replace their old vehicle right away.”
Crash avoidance systems introduced in the past few years in luxury vehicles could cut crashes substantially. The Institute has estimated that if all vehicles were equipped with forward collision warning, lane departure warning, side view assist, and adaptive headlights, 1.9 million crashes — including 1 in 3 fatal crashes — could potentially be prevented or mitigated if the systems worked perfectly. In the first real-world study of one such feature, HLDI found that claims under property damage liability coverage were filed about a quarter less often for Volvo XC60s equipped with City Safety, a low-speed forward collision avoidance system, than for similar SUVs without it.
Future technology could include other potential game-changers. A consortium of automakers is developing vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications platforms that could take crash avoidance even further. Some manufacturers predict these systems could appear in vehicles as early as 2015. Meanwhile, Google has a fleet of cars modified to operate without a driver and has been granted a patent for the technology.
What’s your opinion? Let us know in the comments below.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 16:00|