95% of accidents are down to human error? False.
Manufacturers are now focused on cars that don’t crash
It is commonly said that most accidents are down to human error, to which the obvious solution is driver training, however new research shows this is misleading and the correct term should be human ‘factors’ for which other solutions also need to be considered if we are to reduce crashes significantly.
Scroll down for a summary of the latest vehicle safety technology
The International Transport Forum says research from developed countries shows that just 30% of crashes are caused by intentional high-risk driving such as using the phone or excessive speeding. Most of the rest are caused by simple errors of perception or judgement by otherwise compliant and normally safe drivers.
No driver can concentrate 100% for an entire journey so the answer is therefore to develop vehicles that don’t crash. As we move towards full-autonomous driving, this is exactly what the vehicle manufacturers are working towards and many of the systems that will be needed are already appearing on cars today, to assist the driver and help prevent them crashing.
Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), for instance, which automatically brakes the car if it senses a collision is imminent and the driver has failed to react, has been proven to reduce rear-end collisions by 38% and is now a requirement for a car to get a 5-star rating in the EuroNCAP crash tests.
Because AEB is an extra cost option on many cars, the take up is only 20%, partly through many fleets refusing to allow drivers to specify extra cost options, yet this system alone can have a significant impact on reducing crashes.
One of our aims at Driving for Better Business is to increase take up of these safety systems. We want to encourage drivers to demand them from their employers and for fleets to demand they are fitted as standard on all cars by all manufacturers. These systems help to make collisions less likely reducing avoidable vehicle damage and reducing total cost of ownership.
Volvo Car UK is a Driving for Better Business partner, and is still the only manufacturer to fit AEB as standard on all its cars. Volvo’s commitment to vehicle, driver and pedestrian safety mean it is no coincidence that they currently occupy the top three spots in the EuroNCAP scoring table of all cars ever tested. Here is a summary of what AEB and Volvo’s other Advanced Driver Assistance Systems do.
Volvo’s new-generation City Safety system uses a combined camera and radar system on the upper windscreen to sense vehicles, pedestrians and large animals, and then brake and/or steer to avoid collisions with them. Volvo’s system is the world’s first to operate at night as well as in daylight.
The latest generation of City Safety fitted to the XC90, S90 and V90 operates at all speeds and also helps avoid collisions with other moving vehicles where the speed differential is up to 50kph (31mph).
If a driver brakes hard and swerves, Steering Support can accentuate the steering, and also brake the inner wheels using the cars Electronic Stability Control (ESC) to ensure the obstacle is avoided.
A warning light in the door mirror glass notifies the driver if a car is in their blind spot. If the driver indicates to pull out into the path of the vehicle in the blind spot, then the light begins to flash. If the driver ignores the BLIS warning light, Steer Assist will gently intervene to help the car return to a safe lane.
The driver sets a maximum cruising speed and predetermined timed gap to the car in front, which the car will then maintain by slowing down and speeding up to mirror the car in front. The timed gap can be set to longer in poor weather or reduced visibility, and if another car pulls into the gap in front, your car will drop back to maintain the gap.
The system also works in stop-start traffic such as congested motorways or other queues, helping to ensure the driver doesn’t run into the car in front.
As part of Adaptive Cruise Control, Pilot Assist keeps the car in the centre of the lane with gentle steering adjustments.
Active high beam adapts to avoid dazzling both oncoming drivers and cars in front while active bending lights also track around bends in the road as you turn.
The cameras in the windscreen unit can see the white painted lane markings and identify if the car drifts out of the lane unintentionally, gently steering the car back in lane to avoid oncoming vehicles, or traffic to the sides if on a motorway or dual carriageway.
This system senses if the car is about to leave the road and steers the vehicle back on course, braking if necessary.
In the event that the car does leave the road, the system activates to protect drivers and passengers. This includes shock absorbing seats to protect the front seat occupants’ spines.
The car will take over the steering to make parking easier, whether bay parking, or parallel parking in a space just 1.2 times the length of the car.
Using the radars and parking sensors, the car will measure the gap as you slowly pass it, and notify if the car will fit. The car will then take over the steering while the driver operates the pedals.
The car is able to park in tighter spaces than most drivers are able to, while at the same time, minimising the chances of hitting an adjacent vehicle.