Every day, hundreds of accidents occur in the U.S., and statistics show that the main cause of crashes is distracted driving, speeding, DUIs, reckless driving, and rain. New developments in the autonomous and connected car industries are addressing all these risks, significantly reducing the likelihood of injuries and deaths on the road. The following are just a few new technologies that are already present in cutting-edge vehicles in the U.S. and beyond.
Driver Alcohol Detection Systems For Safety
An experienced DUI lawyer will tell you that once you are deemed to have been over the limit, it is very difficult to escape from fines, license suspensions, and, in some cases, prison. Because drivers under the influence can overestimate their ability to drive, technologies that negate their ability to do so are key. One of these is a driver alcohol detection system for safety, manufactured by QinetiQ North America. This system detects alcohol on a driver’s breath even before he or she has turned the key in the ignition, making it impossible to start the car in the event of a positive ‘reading’.
The driver must first take a breathalyzer test, and then be given the green light to drive by an ignition button with infrared light technology that detects alcohol in the blood. The new system can tell if the person starting the car is doing so from the passenger seat – which is another no-no. The makers of this system predict it could prevent up to 7,000 fatalities every year owing to DUIs.
When you are driving at night time, large vehicles (or those with strong lights) can temporarily ‘blind you’ when they are driving in the opposite direction. Smart or adaptive headlights use cameras, sensors, and special software to direct your high beams and stop glare from oncoming vehicles from hampering visibility. These lights move around, shine more intensely, and react very quickly to changes on the road. They reduce their intensity when they detect vehicles in front of you or opposite you, but keep the road well lit so you can clearly see animals, pedestrians, and other potential accident risks.
New wearable technology can help reduce the number of accidents caused by sleepiness and distraction, and currently, it is already being used by professional drivers to monitor fatigue, alert drivers when they go over the speed limit, and receive notifications when a curve is coming up. Wearable tech can also detect health problems that could lead to accidents. Worn devices measure everything from heart rates to breathing rates and vital signs, to ensure that problems such as cardiac issues are detected way before a potential accident takes place. Israeli company Eyesight Technology is currently working on a system that analyzes the way drivers use their eyes and move their eyelids. It can detect patterns that show a driver is getting sleepy; when this is the case, the device instructs the driver to pull to the side of the road for a rest.
Volvo has launched XC40 Recharge, a sophisticated voice control system that enables drivers to control various aspects of their driving experience through oral commands. Thus, a driver can choose the music they wish to listen to, indicate their chosen destination, and turn the air conditioner or heating on or off without ever taking their hands off the wheel. Developments such as these are key, considering the fact that distracted driving has claimed almost 3,000 lives in recent years.
Thousands of lives are lost every year owing to distracted driving, speeding, DUIs, and the like. New technological developments are holding great promise, however, when it comes to reducing injuries and fatalities. From adaptive headlights to DUI detection systems, and anti-distraction tech to wearable tech, there are many ways to improve road safety by tackling it from a multifaceted perspective.