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March 18, 2019

Technology improvements that will one day make car accidents a thing of the past

How safe are you on the roads? Each year, countless people lose their lives in car accidents. Vehicle accidents caused 40,100 deaths in the USA in 2017 recording a 1% decrease from 2016. While the reduction in casualties is a welcome change, there is still a lot to be done to make roads accident-free.

A plethora of technological advances promise to revolutionize the car industry and bring down the number of accidents in the future years. The aim is to avoid accidents before they happen so that you are never involved in a crash in the first place.  While it’s no secret that self-driving Uber cars have been at the receiving end of some lawsuits, most of these cases have been dismissed. Additionally, the errors, if any are surely ones that can be done away with.

Sure, you still wouldn’t want to get yourself involved in a car accident. While an attorney could help you after a car accident, did you know that you may not have to worry about them in the first place?

Today, we will explore how technological advances could one day make car accidents a thing of the past.

Autonomous Vehicle Braking (AEB)

AEB can help avoid accidents by applying brakes if the driver fails to act. Cameras and radars are used to keep an eye on the road ahead and alert the driver the system spots any vehicles, pedestrians or animals.

AEB takes things a step further and applies the brakes automatically if the driver fails to take any action, avoiding rear-end crashes and collisions. Volvo is one of the pioneers of the technology to use the technology in their cars.

According to IIHS, AEB-equipped Volvo  XC60s encountered 20% fewer collisions compared to cars that don't have the technology.

Self-Steering Cars

Automobile manufacturers Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Lincoln have already started producing cars with steering correction capabilities even at highway speeds. The technology is the next step of lane departure warning system which alerts drivers when a car veers out of its lane on freeways.

Known as lane-keeping assistance, the cars automatically steer back into the lane, preventing you from drifting across and hitting an 18-wheeler in the adjacent lane. The technology is still evolving, but can soon become capable of handling long distance highway driving.

Driver Monitoring

Most accidents can be avoided if the drivers are alert and keep their eyes on the road. In fact, driver fatigue has been found to be responsible for 20% of all car crashes.

Auto manufacturers are working on technologies which can spot signs of driver fatigue and take necessary action. For example, the auto-pilot system of Audi uses two cameras to find out if the driver's eyes are closed for over 10 seconds.

Volvo's system used infrared lights to scan the head position of the driver to ensure he is not nodding off. GM is also working on a similar technology which can decide whether to put the driver in control or if he is too drowsy to be allowed to drive.

Cars that can Communicate

The Department of Transportation is developing connected-vehicle technology which allows vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Cars would be able to communicate crucial information like position, speed or braking to each other to recognize and avoid potentially hazardous situations. You can successfully eliminate accident scenarios using the technology in cars that can automatically steer or brake.

The technology will use the radio wavelength of  5.9-GHz, designated by the DOT for transportation purposes. Vehicles can communicate with each other up to 10 times per second which becomes crucial in high-speed situations on the highway.

Autonomous Vehicles

The competition around driverless vehicles is growing day by day with companies like Google, Audi and Nissan leading the path.

An autonomous car uses multiple sensors to steer, brake and control a car without the need for human intervention. Some of the electronic sensors are already in use while others are being tested.

For example, cameras can be used to analyze shapes but are not suitable for judging speed or distance. On the other hand, radars are ideal for analyzing speed and distance while they can't recognize shapes.

The two technologies can be combined along with other safety systems like forward-collision warnings and blind-spot alerts to avoid crashes successfully.

Nissan said it would release its autonomous vehicle by 2020 while Audi's piloted driving system cars can hit the road in three to five years.

The Future holds an Accident-Free World

Some of the technologies we discussed are already being used in production while others are in the testing stages. Either way the future is bright for smart cars which will be capable of proactively avoiding accidents and reduce the number of crashes that take away so many lives each year.

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