How can road accidents be prevented?
Ask around, and you’ll find that most people hold their driving skills in very high regard. However, studies show that if there is one common trait shared across countries, creeds and cultures, it is that our perceived capabilities are rarely a match with reality.
Close to 90 percent of collisions are a result of human error, be that cognitive overload or distraction, intoxication, drowsiness, inappropriate speed or other unsafe behaviors. Fortunately, improved active and passive safety measures are believed to be among the reasons for an overall reduction of more than 50 percent in road fatalities per 1000 vehicles over the last 15 years. Nevertheless, while many global automakers have committed themselves to pursuing zero-accident motoring, population growth and a rapid increase in the number of vehicles on the road worldwide mean absolute numbers continue to rise.
“The most effective way to improve road safety is to prevent collisions by lowering or removing altogether the human-error factor.”
“Passive safety features such as seat belts, airbags and vehicle design are proven to be effective at mitigating the consequences of a collision,” says Bernhard Pirkl, Head of HARMAN’s ADAS Business Unit, “But the most effective way to improve road safety is to prevent collisions in the first place by lowering or removing altogether the human-error factor.”
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) employ the latest camera and sensor technology to build an accurate picture in real time not only of the immediate surroundings, but also of what lies ahead along the route. These systems can then support the driver on multiple levels ranging from issuing simple warning signals in risky situations to intervention measures such as emergency braking or avoidance maneuvers. Unlike their human drivers, a vehicle’s perceptive powers are focused entirely on the task in hand, while their response times in dangerous situations are a fraction of their human counterpart’s.
“ADAS also gives automakers the ability to help democratize road safety in parts of the world where legislation and infrastructure are lagging behind,” adds Pirkl. “Established driver assistance systems in widespread use are already proven to have significant safety benefits. Our advanced, scalable solutions such as 3D surround view, augmented reality and our forward-facing camera are particularly relevant to urban environments. These are areas where collisions involving vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists present the greatest risk.” Driver monitoring is a further crucial aspect of road safety. Inward-facing cameras can identify when a driver is distracted or drowsy based on position of the head and direction of gaze. This has the potential to substantially lower the large number of collisions caused by driver inattention and is a major stepping stone towards Level 3 and 4 autonomous driving.
“Paired with our HARMAN Ignite cloud platform for inclusion of external data via V2X, our ADAS solutions provide automakers with the tools they need to tailor enhanced safety systems to different market requirements around the world,” says Pirkl.