The overwhelming majority of vehicle crashes are caused by human error. A number of future safety innovations could prevent many of these incidents. They include:
Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communication
V2V communication uses wireless signals to allow vehicles to communicate their relative locations, speeds and directions to one another to maintain safe distances and even brake automatically to avoid crashes. Similarly, vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications could allow vehicles to get updates on safety and traffic issues from traffic signals and road signs. The two technologies combined could potentially reduce vehicle crashes by as much as 81 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Self-driving cars aren’t the stuff of fantasy — vehicles that are semi-automated in traffic jams or stop-and-go driving are just a few years away. By 2025, some experts believe that vehicles could be programmed to follow a daily commute without assistance — and without the human error responsible for most accidents today.
New Airbag Technologies
New ways of deploying airbags for even greater safety could become standard in the near future. For instance, one car manufacturer has already introduced a new external airbag in Europe to help protect pedestrians in the event of a collision. Another will soon introduce airbags that deploy underneath a car to double its stopping power and lift the vehicle to improve bumper-to-bumper contact.
Advanced Windshield Dashboards
In the near future, technologies will enable placement of an increasing amount of dashboard information directly on the windshield. This will enable drivers to stay heads-up while getting all the information they need, and could include augmented-reality, video game-like guidance on how to avoid an impending collision.
Driver Alcohol Detection
Technologies are being developed to measure driver blood alcohol content using non-invasive, in-vehicle sensors. Employing either a touch-based or breath-based approach, the technology would prevent drivers from operating their vehicles above the legal limit. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that this alone would prevent more than 7,000 traffic deaths each year.
Advanced Vehicle Materials
In response to increasingly stringent fuel-efficiency standards, vehicles will soon incorporate more advanced lightweight materials such as high- and ultra-high-strength steels, aluminum, magnesium and composites such as carbon fiber. These materials will also enhance crash performance and driver safety because of the ways they can be used strategically in vehicle designs to absorb and transfer vehicle impacts.
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