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Are we close to accident-free roads?

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With around 500,000 trucking accidents occurring every year, an innovative brand of vehicle warning technology, that could significantly reduce the number of accidents on the road, has been unveiled.

A partnership between companies Geotab and Mobileye has developed a new system described as “one of the most effective risk management tools on the market”. The system, designed for businesses with heavy-duty fleets, will use advanced warning alerts to reduce the likelihood of vehicle crashes. Giving drivers added visibility and insight in those unexpected moments; the cutting edge driver system features lane departure warnings, forward collision warnings, pedestrian and cyclist warnings, distance keeping (headway) warnings and speeding alerts.

Specifically designed for the use of the fleet industry, this new technology has stirred up quite a buzz not only for its safety aspects, but also for the savings it could give to businesses. Studies show that safe driving habits are significantly improved, costs associated with accidents are reduced or completely avoided, smooth driving patterns are reinforced on a continuous basis, and fuel and maintenance costs are minimized.

Neil Cawse, Geotab’s CEO, said “The ease in which businesses can adopt this technology makes it possible for fleet managers to show real savings that make an impact on the bottom line.” This is not the first time technology has been cited as the key to revolutionizing road safety. Self-driving cars have long been seen as the answer to the high death rate on today’s roads and although a real life equivalent of David HassleHoff’s “Knightrider” might be some way off, the technology is taking significant steps forward.

An article in the Independent shed light on an experiment entitled “Project Sartre” which tested the effectiveness of self-driving cars to the limit and tried to answer if it was actually possible . . .

“Yes, we have done it". Those are the words of Carl Johan Almquist, the traffic and product safety director for Volvo Trucks who was in charge of the project.

"It worked. We have already driven autonomous trucks on public roads in Spain. In 2007, we started our research, and in 2009, Project Sartre began.”

"In May 2012, two trucks and three cars that were involved in Project Sartre took part in a road train that covered 200km [124 miles] in one day in Spain. Driving at 90km/h [56mph], and only 5m apart."

Although technology may be closer than ever to making self-driving cars not just a reality but an every day commodity, are we as a society ready? The idea of entrusting your life on the road to something self controlled is a scary one, and may not be all that popular to those who believe their skills behind the wheel are equal or superior to their self-driving cars. Geotab’s technology is almost a happy medium between these two options. It gives us advice and warnings to aid our driving experience, but doesn’t take over full control. It also follows similar systems already in place on our roads.

Satnav’s already use satellite technology to direct us to our desired destinations, parking sensors are becoming more and more common in new car models with warning alerts for problems such as doors being slightly ajar and seat belts being unfastened becoming standard fixtures in most vehicles.

With all this in mind, it’s hard to imagine a future in which technology doesn’t take hold of more of our driving habits. For the time being however, there will still be an element of danger on the open road, but if technologies such as Geotab’s continue to develop, it might be sooner rather than later before road users will be driving across the country hazard free.