How to Crash Proof your Car

UkallcrashesWhilst the image you see on the left looks very pretty, it has a much darker significance.  This scientific 'heat map', incredibly, shows every road crash in Britain that resulted in a serious injury or death between 1999-2010.  In total there were 2,396,750 road accidents in the UK during this period.

See those brighter golden areas?  They show where the collisions were more frequent.  Each point of light is a casualty on a road plotted over 24 hours.

Over the last 30 years there have been many introductions of safety features that we now take for granted including seat belts, airbags, crumple zones and anti-lock braking systems.

Science is playing a big part in the pursuit of car safety.  Systems are being developed by scientists to monitor driver's alertness, allowing cars to take over when their drivers are distracted or sleepy. This type of technology will also be able to 'see' blind spots as well as detect and prevent skids.  Specially adaptive headlights, that have the ability to 'look' round corners, can improve night-time visibility.

 Top 5 Causes of Car Crashes:

  1. Driver Error
  2. Poor Judgment
  3. Behaviour or Inexperience
  4. Road Environment
  5. Pedestrian Error

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The image on the right shows how General Motors' science lab, in Detroit, uses infrared cameras to plot a driver's eye movement and facial features.  With this information they are developing an intelligent windshield that will display useful information to assist driving and to warn of possible dangers ahead.  Crucial driver data (such as blink rate and head movement) is combined with exterior information about weather, road conditions, speed and obstacles.  Providing an image on the windshield to outline the edge of the road in foggy conditions, is just one example of how the system can be of value.

The U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that the following are features currently available that would help prevent or lessen the impact of one out of every three fatal crashes:

  • Lane departure warning
  • Forward collision warning
  • Blind Spot detection
  • Adaptive headlights

Volvo, Ford and Toyota are just three car manufacturers that are aiming to significantly reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured in their cars.  

Volvo have said that they are so confident of their combination of their 'Driver Alert', 'Pedestrian Detection' and 'City Safety Collision Avoidance' technology that they predict no-one will be killed or seriously injured in one of its new cars from 2020 onwards.  
Watch this video for an excellent demonstration of their systems:

Another piece of crash technology being used is 'Attention Assist' by Mercedes-Benz.  Their system uses sensors that work with the steering mechanism and smart software to analyze driver data in real-time.  The software is able to use the information to warn if driving patterns become erratic.

But with around 50 million people being injured each year, in car accidents around the world, it really is imperative to know how to perform life saving skills.  Even rudimentary First Aid and CPR can make a difference.  

Whatever car you drive, whether it has the latest technology or not, let's do our best to keep our eyes on the road and try to stay out of harms way.  

"Let's be careful out there" – Hill Street Blues

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