. Safety devices in automobiles gain in their ability to save lives each year. Since the 1960s there have been significant additions to the automobile in response to injuries and fatalities that resulted from vehicle collisions. For instance, safety glass and anti-lock brakes now come standard in all vehicles. However, it was the invention of the seat belt and in particular the shoulder harness that may single handedly be the most valuable safety invention for drivers and passengers alike. Moreover, with seat belt use at 98% across the country they will continue to save thousands of lives each year.
There are some exciting new safety measures currently in the design phase. One of the most interesting of these is anti-collision technology. Also known as radar safety systems for automobiles, they will have the potential to make sophisticated reversing and anti-collision safety moves. Dont misunderstand. It will not prevent full blown crashes at least not for a while. But they offer up to a 16 foot rear and 25 foot forward range of motion detection. It requires the use of low frequency components with a field of view that is completely programmable. This allows the system to intelligently adapt as the vehicles steering wheel changes direction. Actually the design principles of collision avoidance have been in place for years but until recently the production of these systems has been cost prohibitive. Modeled after defense technology it uses a frequency band that is commonly used in wireless consumer products. A company in the United Kingdom has developed a system that requires only four radar modules and one electronic control to provide 360 degree protection. This technology is still several years away from becoming a regular feature in automobiles but the day is near when anti collision radar systems will come standard in automobiles.
An auto stunt driver in a recent hit movie bragged that he had made his car death proof by adding such things as a cage and a five point seat belt. In fact, auto engineering has lately accepted the challenge of creating cars and trucks that could be death proof. One foreign auto manufacturer is promising to have an injury proof car on the market by 2020. Let us consider some of the research behind this idea.
Studies have shown that when people are scared they freeze up and few things are more frightening than an auto accident. Research has shown that it takes the average driver 1.1 seconds to realize they are headed for an accident and react by applying pressure to the brake. This is a significant amount of time considering that if even 10 M.P.H. the number of auto fatalities could be cut in half slowed a car it is easier to understand the value of a second. Furthermore, research has also shown that in over fifty percent of rear end collisions the brakes were never even applied. So auto safety engineers are now operating under the premise that if the car is able to make a calculated decision about an impending accident then there will be fewer accidents. In other words, in some of our current automobiles and those of the future digital technology will take some of the decision making away from the driver altogether.
Another safety measure is a precollision prevention system. Through the use of lasers, infrared sensors and cameras the automobile itself is able to detect obstacles ahead on the road. Should an obstacle appear then a warning light and an alarm alerts the driver of the impending collision and at the same time the car itself begins to prepare for the accident by automatically tightening passengers seat belts, engaging the airbags and actually (in some instances) applying pressure to the brakes themselves.
Yet another safety feature aids drivers keep track of vehicles around him or her that are actually in their blind spots. This will be done in addition to other safety checks that will rely on information received from satellites talking to on board computer systems constantly monitoring road conditions ahead on the road including obstacles, accidents and dangerous turns. The car will then be able to make a decision about the best course of action for a driver to take. This might be anything from applying the brakes to swerving the car to avoid a head on collision. It may even make choices based on perceived assessment of risk opting between the lesser of two difficult situations.
In all reality, it is unlikely that vehicle fatalities will ever totally disappear but a dramatic reduction in deaths and injuries is more than just a distant possibility its near to being a reality. In the meantime driver error is the main cause of accidents so let us take a moment to quickly review some driver safety tips.
First, keep your eyes and attention on the road in front of you. Driver distraction is one of the leading causes of accidents in this country. When a driver is eating, talking on the phone, fixing make-up or shaving, changing radio stations or otherwise behaving distractedly they risk causing an accident. Recently, texting while driving has become such a widespread cause of collisions that many municipalities are passing legislation to prevent it.
A second leading cause of accidents is driving under the influence of alcohol, prescription medicine or illegal drugs. Half of all accidents are alcohol related in the Houston area. If you are going to engage in a night of partying and drinking then choose a designated driver who will agree to hold the keys and remain sober for the evening acting in the role of chauffeur.
Speeding or otherwise breaking the rules of the road is a third cause of accidents. Remember to leave safe distance between your car and those around you and signal so the other drivers are aware of your intentions. Finally, always be sure that you and your passengers are safely belted into their seats.