Connected cars are making roads safer

On National Road Safety Week, Barry Street discusses how connected cars make for safer roads

"As Road Safety Week launches, the role autonomous vehicles can play in dramatically improving road safety will no doubt be in the headlines. And why not? They offer a genuine and perfectly feasible way to vastly improve the safety of our roads, both for vehicle occupants (we won’t be able to say “drivers” anymore!) and pedestrians. However, before autonomous vehicles gain traction, there are still some major chicanes to navigate, even if these may be ideologically rather than technologically placed.

So having parked our autonomous vehicle, for now anyway, our manual approach to safe driving continues; checking our mirrors to ensure full visibility before we pull away, signalling to show our intention to other drivers, regularly servicing and maintaining our vehicle and obeying the huge array of legally enforceable road rules.

Yet despite this, we cannot escape the depressing fact that there are still an estimated 5 fatalities and 61 serious injuries on our roads every single day with reports suggesting that as many as 90% of these accidents are attributable, at least in part, to human error.

The opportunity this creates has not escaped the attention of vehicle manufacturers, keen to be first to introduce new technology and gadgets to make their vehicles even more desirable to own, and more enjoyable and safer to drive. This is helping fuel the development of connected cars. Harnessing the power of the internet, connected cars are already on our roads with an impressive array of features and functionality and with potential for many more.

Although much of the hype around connected cars so far has been about the advanced entertainment and satellite navigation systems they offer, there is also considerable potential to improve road safety too.  With most accidents caused by driver distraction, connected cars could eliminate this by alerting the driver if their vehicle gets too close to another. If the driver fails to react, the computer can take control of steering or braking to avoid a collision, using very similar technology to autonomous cars.

With connected cars that can ‘talk’ to one another, drivers will no longer need to rely solely on what they can see. Data will pass between vehicles taking account of their speed and position on the road, with pinpoint accuracy, allowing them to give advance warning to the driver of approaching hazards. By connecting to external infrastructure, vehicles will use data from traffic or weather monitoring systems to identify congestion hotspots, accidents or potentially hazardous conditions, automatically re-routing cars safely around them.

Connected cars can also monitor their own condition, using and transmitting data about performance to monitor faults and wear and tear, booking repairs or contacting emergency or breakdown services, without the need for the driver to make a call.

Inside the connected vehicle, hazardous distractions can be reduced by recording and storing the driving preferences for each individual using the car, so that when the occupant gets in, the vehicle recognises them and adjusts seat and mirror positioning, ambient temperature and lighting levels, even music preferences and volume to their choice. Projecting information onto the windscreen, heads up displays eliminate the need for drivers to take their eyes off the road even for a second.  Cameras, sensors, radar and ultrasound images all collect data that can be fused and analysed by the connected vehicle, with instructions given to the driver on what action is necessary.

While some of these exciting features are futuristic, many luxury vehicles already incorporate connected functionality. As we know, there is a trickle-down effect as gadgets in high end vehicles becomes mainstream. Satellite navigation is a prime example.  So as we look into the not too distant future, there’s every hope that as connected cars become more mainstream, that these better connected drivers will make our roads safer too."                              

Originally published on Post Online on 21st November 2016                                                                          

 

-Ends-

 

Notes to Editors:

About Covéa Insurance

Covea Insurance plc is the UK underwriting business of leading French mutual insurance group Covéa, who are number 1 for property and liability insurance in France, generating over 16.3 billion Euros in premiums in 2017.  

Covéa Insurance looks after the insurance needs of over 1.5 million policyholders; delivering financial reassurance through its Standard & Poor’s A+ stable rating, as a guaranteed subsidiary of Covéa. 

The company offers motor, household, protection, pet, mid and high net worth insurance and a range of commercial insurance products, through a range of distribution channels. Employing over 1800 people, Covéa Insurance has a strong people and service ethos, having Investors In People Gold accreditation and is signatory to the HM Treasury Women In Finance Charter. It also has World Class service accreditation from the Institute of Customer Service for its Motor Claims, Home Claims and Underwriting Services teams as well as Chartered Insurer status for its Commercial and Mid/High Net Worth business.

In 2018, Covéa Insurance were recipients of the Personal Lines Insurer of the Year award at both the British Insurance Awards and the Insurance Times Awards and was the top rated insurer in the Insurance Times Broker Service Survey for both Personal and Commercial Lines.

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