Safer Driving

Business Insights

The good news is that the UK’s roads are getting safer. The weird news is that one of the main reasons for that is the very technology regularly reported to be the cause of driver distraction and ensuing accidents.

Despite vehicle traffic increasing by 4.5% since 2010 – road casualties dropped by by 11% during the same time period.

That’s not to take away the huge part played by road safety public awareness campaigns in this reduction, but there’s no doubting the other, literally, driving forces of such positive change.

These are the technological advancements that are helping to prevent collisions and making vehicles safer than ever, saving many lives as a result.

Researchers have found that four times more people prioritise connectivity gadgets when buying a new car, compared to those who opt for safety upgrades and, underlining the importance of motoring lifesaving features, is Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) additional rating for vehicles which include ‘safety packs’, or additional safety add-ons.

It is now illegal to use a phone while driving and tougher penalties for doing so have recently been introduced but, unfortunately, we continue to hear reports of people being hurt or killed in motoring accidents caused by another driver by doing just that.

However the ap creators are now developing technology which can stop a phone from becoming a potential fatal distraction.

Some simply track bad driving habits in a bid to boost user awareness and future prevention, others are more, well, hands-on, intercepting email messages and texts, reading them aloud or responding to them automatically with a pre-determined text.

And there’s even those which, once they detect movement over around 5mph, render the phone inoperative, only allowing people with Bluetooth headsets to accept calls or read flagged messages once they’ve pulled over.

Aps such as these are, no doubt, being welcomed by insurance companies which are already using telematics to help bring down insurance costs and payouts for high-risk groups such as inexperienced, young or less frequent drivers.

In a nutshell, telematics involves installing a device into a vehicle which, using GPS, tracks its movements and registering things such as acceleration, cornering and how harsh or smooth braking is. The results can then by used by insurers to assess a driver’s ability and offer a premium based on how risky they rate that individual’s driving.

When it comes to the vehicles themselves, driver safety has certainly come a long way from the mandatory feature that was the seatbelt.

Nowadays the technology involved is pretty impressive, and being designed to minimise the chance of collisions happening, it’s not only protecting the vehicle occupant but other road users too.

Here’s a few you may have come across.

Active headlights

A really bright idea for illuminating the road ahead. Unlike fixed standard headlights, these use electronic sensors to detect steering and actually move in the direction the vehicle is heading.

Adaptive cruise control

Sensors are in action once again to maintain a consistent gap between you and the vehicle ahead. They maintain a pre-set speed, automatically slowing or accelerating as necessary.

Anti-lock brakes

Reduces the skidding threat should there be the sudden need of emergency heavy breaking. If sensors detect that the wheels have stopped rotating they activate the system to rapidly release and apply the breaks, allowing the driver to maintain better control.

Attention monitoring systems

With studies showing one in five accidents on major roads in the UK are sleep related, these features are worth waking up and paying attention to. By tracking where a vehicle sits within road lanes and whether it’s drifting or not, they can detect tiredness, alert the driver and suggest taking a break.

Blind spot monitoring

Giving motorists an extra window on the world, sensors detect anything travelling adjacently and warn via lights in side-view mirrors or on the dashboard. Others also sound an alarm should a lane change be attempted while another vehicle is in the blind spot.

Forward collision warning

You’d think if you could see where you’re going you wouldn’t need one of these? Not so. Cameras or radar, detect how close something in front is and send out alerts in time for a driver to react to any danger - such as a slowing vehicle - ahead.

Lane departure warning and lane-keeping technology

Already mandatory in all new European heavy-duty vehicles, this is similar to attention monitoring systems in that it alerts drivers to drifting out of lanes at dangerous times via a camera.