It’s estimated that about 40,000 Americans – and 1.3 million people worldwide – are killed in car accidents every year. On top of this, some 2.3 million Americans are also injured in car accidents annually. In total, this equates to some $230.6 billion spent on road crashes each year – and that’s only in the United States. Yes, car accidents, although they’ve decreased significantly over the years thanks to technological advances, are still a major issue – and a major killer in this day and age. But with active and passive vehicle technology advancing at the rapid rate that it’s on now, some automakers are claiming that by the year 2020, nobody driving one of their tech-packed cars will be involved in an auto accident ever again. It’s a bold claim from those that are claiming it, but with that being said, there’s a slew of technology that’s currently out and even more that’s in development that could truly pave the way for accident-free cars in the not too distant future. Here’s a look at five of these:
- Crash Avoidance Systems: This technology is already included in several vehicles. Specifically, this smart system works to anticipate when a collision may occur. It then alerts the driver by sounding an alarm so that proper precautions can be made before a collision. In some more advanced crash avoidance systems, the system may also pad the brakes and inflate the air bags to proactively assist drivers and keep them safe in the event that an accident occurs.
- Smart Roads: Arguably the biggest factor to an accident-free world is technology that is being developed outside of the car, and not in it. Specifically, on the roads. The concept of these “smart roads” is that cars will pass various checkpoints as they drive along. These checkpoints can detect things like the pace of traffic and then communicate this information back to other connected vehicles on the road. The thinking is that it can keep a good pace of traffic, while letting drivers know of potential traffic jams or accidents ahead of them to help keep them safer during their drive.
- Solar Roads: Another technology being developed outside of the car, this technology has the potential to not only provide clear driving lanes at night, but also to help drivers avoid wildlife that may enter onto the road at night by illuminating the animal’s footsteps on the dark road to warn oncoming drivers well ahead of time.
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Steer Assist: This technological advancement is designed to help drivers stay in their lanes by actively monitoring the traffic in front of them and it’s also designed to prevent tailgating. That’s right, when the system detects that you’re following the car ahead of you too closely, it will apply the brakes.
- Drowsy Driving Detection: Up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be linked to drowsy driving. Now automakers have introduced technology that will alert drivers when they may be unfit to drive. Such systems monitor a driver’s profile and driving tendencies and then use the data gleaned from this profile to detect any unusual behavior that the driver may be exhibiting. When detection occurs, the system will sound and suggest that rest is necessary.
So will we have accident-free cars by 2020? While that seems unlikely, if there’s one thing that we’ve learned over the years, it’s to never underestimate development within the auto industry. So while the days of traffic accidents and citations may be numbered, it’s worth noting that if you get a ticket today, one option to keep the incident off your record – and points off your license – is to attend a defensive driving course. Even if you don’t have an incident you’re looking to avoid going on your record, attending a defensive driving course can also help lower your insurance rates and qualify you for safe driver discounts.