How technology is advancing to prevent accident fatalities and injuries.

Pedestrians accounted for 13% of the overall 32,885 traffic fatalities in 2010, the last year National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has complete statistics. An additional 70,000 were injured. In Virginia, 73 pedestrian deaths occurred out of 740 traffic fatalities. You can be safer by crossing at intersections and crosswalks only, wearing reflective clothing at night, and just like your parents taught you, look both ways more than once before crossing the street. But what can the auto industry do to help drivers not hit any objects or keep us safer when we do?

Some feel the future of auto safety may already be at our fingertips through Wi-Fi communications and vehicle to vehicle communication.  What exactly is Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) Communication? By sending Wi-Fi signals regarding position, speed and location between devices located within 200 feet of a vehicle allow that vehicle to sense threats and hazards. Using GPS and other non-vehicle based technology to receive messages from apps like Here I Am. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovation Technology Administration - USDOT RITA – envision every vehicle on the road will be able to communicate in this fashion, thereby preventing 76% of auto accidents and reducing fatalities and injuries. This technology is currently being tested by General Motors, which is developing a timeline to introduce the new technology on its vehicles worldwide. You may have also heard about the pedestrian airbags in connections with Swedish Automaker Volvo.  Watch the video here.

Also working to help reduce injuries caused in an auto accident is Dr. Stewart Wang of the University of Michigan.  He is working with engineers to help them understand what a body goes through on impact. As a trauma surgeon, Dr. Wang has seen first-hand the devastating injuries caused by auto accidents happening daily on our roads.  He is the founding director of the International Center of Automotive Medicine (ICAM).  Instead of working in their respective labs/offices, Dr. Wang puts medical professionals and engineers together to learn from each other and to analyze accidents side by side. It’s the only fellowship of its kind in the world. Attending these project-based programs are engineers from almost every automaker and industry suppliers- think seat belt manufactures for example of one supplier.  He estimates that his work has influenced the design of more than 75 million vehicles on the road today.  

Today’s vehicles are much safer than the vehicles of the past. However, with so many more drivers on the roads, we must all practice safer driving, follow the law and be on the lookout for the driver is not driving by the rules. While no one plans on getting in a wreck, hence the term accident, it happens all day every day. Click here for additional guidance on what to do if you are involved in an auto accident.

Kellam T. Parks
Managing Member of Parks Zeigler, PLLC
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