How do you solve a problem like UK roads? In case you missed it, the UK government recently released last year’s statistics on road accidents. Not only have we had a 2.2% increase in road users in the UK, but road deaths are at an all-time high, being just over 1,700 fatalities in 2016. As much as we love to drive, the roads are getting busier, and with it, more people are getting hurt. Accidents are happening, there were over 20,000 severe injuries on our roads last year, and we’re curious to know what’s being done to prevent them. If you’re someone who’s been through this, and you’re not sure what to do,Your Legal Friend have got a really in-depth FAQ on their site which can guide you through what to do after a car accident.
That’s why we’re so interested in how our cars and roads are changing these days, because our lives could literally be in the hands of Google or Tesla, who are working on autonomous cars; or Dutch company Dynniq, who are trialling a traffic light hacking app for the elderly in Tilburg. We’ve got the guide to some of the more interesting developments to watch in the coming years.
The tech on everybody’s radar right now; tech giants like Google and Tesla are already trialling autonomous vehicles, which researchers predict could save 300,000 lives per decade in the US. The cars are set to boast a range of features, personalisation that can automatically set temperature, music and seat height preferences based on passenger for example. More impressively is the potential for these cars to calculate how best to keep their occupant safe in the event of a collision. It throws up a lot of questions about liability and responsibility of the developers of these cars though. In the event of a collision, who will be responsible if there is injury or death? Are we likely to see an increase in accidents if only some people embrace the new technology? These are questions we’re not likely to answer until they hit general circulation.
Traffic light hacking
What sounds like every driver’s nightmare is actually the reality in the city of Tilburg. A Dutch company called Dynniq is trialling methods of creating an intelligent traffic system, working with the city’s council. Their traffic light hacking app is aimed at vulnerable pedestrians, such as the elderly, who can use their smartphones to give themselves more time to cross safely. It has its drawbacks; the attitudes of drivers would need to be good-natured in the face of this change in giving pedestrians more power over the roads. Plus it would need to be regulated to ensure the safety of all using the system but it’s certainly an empowering idea to encourage vulnerable pedestrians to walk more.
A technology that is more in the present than others, AEB systems were introduced in the euro NCAP five-star award requirement for cars in 2016. Thatcham Research estimates that automatic braking systems could save 1,100 lives in the UK over the next ten years. They are also estimated to prevent more than 120,000 injuries. 25% of road accidents happen when parking and 75% of those accidents happen while reversing. As AEB systems detect obstacles while reversing, this system could really make a difference to road users, preventing parking incidents.
We’re excited about the future, as our cars get smarter; we’re all hoping to be a little bit safer. There are still over 100,000 traffic accidents in the UK each year and we still have some work to do in lowering those numbers.