Pre-Crash Safety Technology Gets A Workout

Toyota has constructed a new facility in Japan to test car safety systems. Such systems may soon be able to greatly reduce the number of car accidents, particularly at trouble-spots like intersections. The Japanese facility is testing vehicles that gather information from sensors, other cars and from transmitters installed in the streets to give warnings about potential hazards. Other safety systems are designed to go a step beyond warnings and apply the brakes themselves in an accident appears imminent. Without setting a specific timeline, Toyota indicated that such technology would be appearing in their vehicles soon.

Technology has been the driving force in making transportation safer than in years past. Despite an increase in the total miles driven, deadly car accidents are much less common than they were 25 years ago. Improved brakes and tires, air bags, mandatory seat belts, and other advancements have played a large role in reducing car accidents and in improving a person’s chance of surviving when an accident does occur. New technology may greatly reduce accidents caused by driver error or inattention.

Some critics warn that technology can also pose a threat to safe driving practices. Technology that is distracting or confusing may increase a driver’s chances of making a dangerous mistake. It is important for car manufacturers to consider the ease of use and attention necessary to gain the benefits of any given technology.

Someday soon, cars might be able to swerve and stop without driver aid to avoid a collision. Cars may even drive themselves with little or no input from the driver at all.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “Toyota tests cars that communicate with each other,” 12 November 2012