Where did we leave off? Oh yes – when looking at the impact that safety measures such as the modernization of seat belts or anti-lock braking systems, it’s easy to understand further technological advances are on the horizon.
What does the future of driving look like?
Swedish innovation saves lives
In 1959, an engineer at Volvo invented the three-point seatbelt, keeping passengers inside the car from slamming forward into the dashboard or steering wheel in event of a crash.
Volvo then did something nearly unheard-of for companies: they gave away the patent to the three-point seatbelt for free, becoming available to every interested manufacturer. Their generosity outfitted almost every car with the three-point seatbelt we rely on so much today.
Softening the blow
Airbags are a dual technology, consisting of the bag itself and sensors telling it when to inflate. Although they’re one part of a pair, the sensors are more important than you may think — as Honda demonstrated, an airbag that fires late by less than one-tenth of a second could be worse than no airbag.
Airbags and their sensor counterparts were patented by Allen Breed in 1968 but didn’t become widespread until the 1970s. In 1988, Chrysler became the first company to offer airbags as a standard feature and by 1998, they were mandatory in all new cars.
Airbags have spread far beyond the bumper sensor systems they started with. Modern cars are equipped with advanced sensors that can detect a crash before impact, allowing seatbelts to lock and airbags to fire preemptively.
Many cars nowadays have side airbags to protect from side impact, knee airbags to protect drivers from leg injuries, center airbags to keep driver and passenger from colliding and seat belt airbags to reduce the jarring seat belt lock stop.
Taking the driver out of the equation
The newest development in driver safety is to hand off some driving controls to a computer. There’s a limit to how fast the human brain can react, a feature of our biology, known as “thinking time.”
Computers don’t have this problem — with almost zero reaction time needed, they can react much faster than we can.
The future of driver safety
The future of driver safety appears to be moving toward full autonomy — cars that can drive themselves – but there’s still a long way to go. Right now, “driverless” cars are being used sparingly and in specific conditions, not equipped to handle poorly painted road lines, construction zones, unpredictable pedestrians, confusing intersections and bad weather.
On the other hand, human error is unavoidable, with over two million crashes per year in the United States alone. Autonomous vehicle advocates argue that self-driving cars don’t have to be perfect drivers — they just have to be better than humans.
Encouraging a culture of safety
Driver safety remains in the hands of those who get behind the wheel. It’s important to know that the people who drive for your company are safe and responsible, apt to take care of themselves and the community.
Continuous driver monitoring gives you the peace of mind to know that, as soon as one of your drivers receives an infraction, whether on personal time or on the job, you can make an informed, actionable decision. Your drivers represent your company – make sure you have only the best driving for you.