We’ve all seen and heard about the advances being made in vehicle tech, from the semi-autonomous Uber to the strides made by Tesla. But will it make the roads safer? The U.S. Dept. of Transport predicts that technology like radar-based safety devices could help prevent over 81% of annual vehicle crashes in the U.S.. What we want to know is, how will this affect cyclists and have we seen any improvements yet?
The Answer is No. Modern Vehicle Technology is NOT Reducing Cyclist Fatalities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), cyclist deaths have increased over the past two years on record. In 2015, there were 818 deaths which was a 12.2% year-over-year increase. Further, in 2016, there were 840 deaths which was a smaller YOY increase (1.3%) but the highest amount since 1991. (Note: the data is not yet available for 2017.)
What’s causing these accidents? 94% of serious crashes in the U.S. are the result of human error on the part of the driver or rider.
The NHTSA says that many crashes would be avoided if cyclists and motorists both followed the road laws more carefully and looked out for each other. Further, it is working to promote vehicle technologies that it claims hold the potential to reduce the number of crashes that occur every year.
What Technologies Show the Most Potential to Increase Vehicle and Bike Safety?
Let’s take a look at some of the most talked about technologies being added to vehicles.
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
AEB systems are installed in vehicles and use radar, cameras, and lidar-based tech to monitor the traffic ahead. If a potential collision is detected, the driver will be warned. If the driver fails to respond, the system will automatically brake.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that AEB systems prevent about 50% of rear-end crashes, and the warnings alone are responsible for a 27% reduction. When AEB systems don’t prevent a rear-end collision, they still slow the car down which has cut the injuries from rear-end collisions in half.
Companies including Audi, BMW, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, and many more have already implemented AEB technology. Further, there is a voluntary agreement being signed by companies in North America in which they pledge to make AEB standard on all of their new passenger vehicles by Sept. 1, 2022.
- Lane Departure Warning and Prevention
This technology monitors where a vehicle is in a lane. If the vehicle begins to drift, the driver will be alerted by a light, beep, or vibration. More advanced systems prevent the car from leaving the lane and make corrections when it is swerving.
- Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
ACC automatically makes adjustments to the speed of a vehicle so that it always maintains a safe distance from vehicles ahead. See how it works and Honda implements it here.
- Blind Spot Warning
This tech uses radar to detect activity around a vehicle and alert the driver if they are close to hitting something. IIHS found it helps to reduce lane-change crashes by 14%.
All of these technologies work to monitor the movement around a vehicle and help it to avoid accidents. They have proven to be effective in preventing collisions thus far but still have a long way to go, especially when it comes to protecting cyclists.
A 2017 IEEE Spectrum Study found that the self-driving technology in autonomous cars has the most difficulty when interacting with bicycles because they are smaller and less predictable than other vehicles. We will likely have to wait several years for the technology to mature to the point where we start to see it impact our yearly cycling injury and fatality rates. The good news is, we are moving in the right direction.
Have you been in a Bike Accident and Need Legal Help?
At Sariol Legal, you will find a team that is passionate about three things, the law, cycling, and helping our clients get justice. We are cyclists ourselves so have a deep understanding of the sport and what goes on out on the road. After helping hundreds of clients to win settlements and get back to normal life, we’re the bike attorneys to call when you need a legal cycling expert on your side.
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