It’s such a good thing that the driver fatality rate in the United States has been going down for a generation and a half. We have safer road designs and the use of things like seatbelts and airbags to thank for that. But now we’re at a point where that’s baked into the system. In order to go further, it will require vehicles to prevent accidents in the first place.
So much good stuff is happening on that front. You have lane warning systems that let you know if you depart from your lane on highway when you’re distracted. And there’s a technology in some luxury cars that is like an automatic blind spot warning signal. A radar monitors your blind spot when you activate your turn signal and, if there’s something in there you don’t see, warns you before it’s too late.
I love these collision avoidance warnings. But how about this: Toyota is testing a system in Japan that will seize control of steering and braking from you when it senses an imminent collision. This so-called millimeter wave technology can keep you from running into another vehicle. It doesn’t offer 100% certain avoidance, but it can likely eliminate many of the kinds of accidents you would be in.
I promise you that in the next 10 years, we will have the next great wave of fatality reduction because of technology that goes beyond just warning you of danger to actually prevent you from being in the accident itself.
The one thing we haven’t gotten serious about yet is people behind the wheel who are intoxicated on drugs or alcohol. If we move into the Big Brother category, there’s even some technology that could be employed in the handgrip on steering wheels that won’t allow you to drive a vehicle if it senses you have a certain blood alcohol level.
I know that’s very Big Brother. But my thing is once somebody has had a DUI or DWI conviction, why not? Think about all the tens of thousands of people who would be alive today who aren’t because of drunk drivers.