12,345 people were killed in road safety accidents in 2012 in the European Union, many for easily avoidable reasons such as not wearing a seatbelt. Transport exports and authorities last month called on the EU to accelerate progress in road safety.
Vehicles are gradually becoming safer, but traffic levels are increasing, too. 900 lives could have been saved if the vehicles had had seatbelt reminder sensors. Most new cars do, but not all, and manufacturers aren’t required by law to fit them. There are no statistics available to say whether the 900 people that were killed were in new vehicles or older vehicles. Making them compulsory on new vehicles won’t affect these older vehicles, but will, over time, improve the rate of wearing seatbelts as old vehicles are scrapped and replaced.
Inappropriate speed and drink driving were also named as major contributors to road deaths. Again, technology is improving in this area with automatic braking, electronic stability control, better suspension, and better tyres, but it will be a long time before the whole vehicle fleet has these.
While Britain has one of the best records for road safety in the EU progress to reduce this rate has been slower than the EU average over the last decade. Encouraging safety technology to filter down through entire vehicle ranges rather than just being the preserve of the top spec models will accelerate safety gains.
Safety technology that would help reduce accidents includes:
- Electronic stability control (a suite of electronics including anti-lock brakes, traction control and anti-skid technology)
- Blind spot monitoring (helps prevent vehicles moving over into a lane that’s already occupied)
- Radar cruise control (helps keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front)
- Collision avoidance systems (automatically brake if the system detects the vehicle is on a collision course)
- Reversing cameras and sensors (helps avoid children being run over in driveways)
- Rear cross traffic alert (helps drivers reverse out of angle parks by warning if there are vehicles coming)