Every year, millions of people unfortunately die in road accidents and millions more are seriously injured. According to the latest report from the World Health Organization, the global death rate is 1.34 million per year. This number seems very scary when you realize that it is equivalent to wiping out cities like Dallas (US), Birmingham (UK), Munich (DE) or Gurugram (IND) – every year!
More than half of the deaths are pedestrians, cyclists, two-wheelers and passers-by, while around 0.65 million are vehicle occupants. There are numerous reports and research papers pointing out that more than 50% of these vehicle occupant fatalities are due to “not wearing seat belts”. The United States, China and India lead the world in recording the number of annual deaths, but alarmingly, despite numerous technological advances and government regulations, no significant decline has been seen for decades.
These statistics force us to realize that it is perhaps high time to review the safety of automobiles and public roads.
Much is already being done by various stakeholders – automakers, non-profit organizations, state and federal/central governments, to reduce automobile accidents or resulting fatalities. The world’s largest automotive companies regularly introduce many technologies to gradually improve the safety of their vehicles. Several non-profit organizations are running awareness campaigns online and in popular places to better educate people about road safety and accident prevention. Many government regulations exist to ensure compliance with safety standards and to penalize dangerous driving.
Campaigns like Click-it-or-Ticket (US), Buckle-Up (EU) or a recent Rs 1,000 penalty introduced in India could be a good deterrent. However, the proof is in the pudding – if the number of deaths is not decreasing year on year, then either the policies and regulations are not effective, the awareness campaigns are not working, or the technologies available do not help to make modern vehicles progressively safer. .
Apparently, humans are not very discouraged or harmed by the daily count of deaths and consider them part of our daily lives. However, we are very outraged and demand immediate action when either a Princess Diana Princess, a car accident in 2013 in which Paul Walker perished in Bollywood, or the recent car accident which claimed the life of business tycoon Cyrus Mistry , we haven’t learned much, and the safety of the occupants of the vehicle is always compromised, everywhere and every day!
Let’s face it, we ourselves have been on trips in which not all occupants have fastened their seat belts. Either way, human error continues to be the primary root cause of most car accidents, which further strengthens our belief that the effective use of technological improvements could be our eventual reliable direction in making vehicles and roads safer than ever.
The use of collision avoidance warning and assistance systems can play an important role in preventing motor vehicle accidents. However, these have not yet reached a high level of reliability or been widely used to show their true impact in reducing deaths. In addition, most alert systems such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, cross traffic warning, distracted driver detection, pedestrian detection and assistance systems such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, electronic stability control, parking and traffic jam aids etc., are currently available mainly on high-end vehicles and therefore do not benefit most vehicles currently on the road.
Using these features as part of the ADAS/AD L2/3 package will certainly help automotive OEMs in the future to sell safer automobiles. However, one of the effective mitigation strategies, which could be implemented immediately, is instead to design smart automobiles in such a way as to significantly reduce human error factors and completely eliminate dangerous driving.
Although various global OEMs and suppliers may come up with a unique technology application on how to solve its problem permanently, but I believe there are some fruits at hand that could be picked to rapidly improve the safety of automobiles and people in and around them. .
It can be very difficult to motivate every occupant of a vehicle, in every country, to always wear a seat belt when driving, but it is relatively easy to ensure that a vehicle does not move from the until all occupants of the vehicle have fastened their seat belts.
Catchy slogans such as “ALL Click-It or just Park-It”, “Buckle-Up ALL or No-Go”, etc. could be used to educate drivers about standing still in their vehicles until every occupant is fully secure. Mandatory seat belt for each seat could be the first step followed by an occupant sensor in each seat. Many high-value vehicles do not switch from park mode to drive mode unless the driver’s seat belt is locked.
This strategy could easily be extended to all occupants of a vehicle. A seat domain control unit can easily detect when a seat is occupied or not and a vehicle control unit can use the information to not let the vehicle move unless all occupied seats have seat belts security locked.
If a seat belt is unlocked after a vehicle has begun to move, visual, audible or vibration warnings may be given to affected occupants for reassurance. Most modern vehicles give such warnings, but primarily to front seat occupants. Additionally, these warnings disappear after approximately 30 seconds, allowing a car to move without ensuring the safety of all occupants first.
Imposing non-stop warnings might be a little annoying at first, but it will certainly ensure that all occupants are forced to lock their seat belts before a car moves. A similar warning could be given to the driver to stop the vehicle in a safe place unless all passengers have re-fastened their seat belts. To ensure that drivers do not intentionally break the rules, the vehicle control unit of a connected automobile can be activated to report unsafe driving behavior to OEMs or even directly to a central enforcement agency. law application.
Many times, promising major automotive technology features are overlooked by companies, citing high implementation cost, little incremental impact on revenue, or negative impact on profitability. However, quick calculations on the approximate expenses for new parts, hardware and software development and integration, and testing and validation might show that the additional cost may not even exceed $100 (approximately Rs. 8,163) per vehicle – even for a product in the worst case. mix up the scenario!
According to the WHO, road accidents cost most countries 3% of their gross domestic product. Thus, the cost to the major economies of the United States ($23 trillion), China ($17 trillion), Japan ($5 trillion), Germany ($4 trillion) and India ($3.5 trillion) will be north of $1 trillion this year. With an average of 60 million vehicles sold each year, the loss for the top 5 countries, per vehicle, will be more than 100 times the cost of changing vehicles to avoid huge loss of life in the first place!
Either way, the finance gurus could dig deeper into the cost-benefit analyses, but hopefully we’ll agree that $30 million (Rs 242 crore) is a very small sum to save at least 300,000 occupants of vehicles that we lose every year.
A state or federal/central agency responsible for automotive and transportation regulation could work closely with OEMs and suppliers to provide the appropriate legal framework around effective solutions to prevent such automotive disasters. There are many automotive experts, safety gurus, and experienced organizations who could easily help government agencies and automotive and transportation companies not only develop appropriate policies and strategies, but also work with automotive OEMs and suppliers. to successfully execute these vehicle upgrades to make the world a much safer place to travel – for us and future generations!
Pankaj Mahajan, Vice President, Kearney
Disclaimer: All views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein belong solely to the author, and not necessarily the employer, organization, department, committee or any other group or individual of the author.