Automated Driving Tech Could End Rise in Road Deaths

Burney Simpson

Deaths in traffic accidents are on the rise but these fatalities could be reduced if automated technology were installed in passenger vehicles.

That’s the conclusion after reading the major findings in two recent reports –

  • Road deaths rose about 8 percent in 2015;
  • Adding three types of currently-available automated technology to passenger cars could reduce accidents by about 25 percent.

Starting with bullet two, a study from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) found that the installation of blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning systems could stop or make less severe 1.3 million crashes a year.

Those crashes cause 10,000 fatalities and 133,000 injuries annually, the researchers report.

It would cost about $600 per light-duty vehicle to install the technology, according to “Cost and benefit estimates of partially-automated vehicle collision avoidance technologies” by Corey D. Harper, Chris T. Hendrickson, and Constantine Samaras. The three are with CMU’s Civil and Environmental Engineering department.

It would cost about $13 billion to install this technology in all light-duty vehicles in the U.S. but this investment would bring an $18 billion benefit in the first year alone.

TRAFFIC FATALITIES RISING

The CMU study comes just as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 2015 traffic fatalities rose nearly 8 percent from 2014 following decades of decline.

An estimated 35,200 people died in traffic accidents in 2015, while total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) rose 3.5 percent to 107.2 billion miles, according to NHTSA.

The fatality rate per 100 million VMT last year rose to 1.12, up from 1.08 in 2014.

Those who weren’t even in passenger vehicles saw “significant increases” in deaths from traffic accidents, NHTSA found.

For instance, traffic fatalities rose 13 percent for bicyclists, 10 percent for pedestrians and 9 percent for motorcyclists last year, while fatalities of drivers and passengers rose by 6 percent and 7 percent respectively.

The 2015 findings remain estimates. An annual statistical report will be released later this year.

The numbers for last year run counter to long-term trends. From 1973 to 2013 crash fatalities dropped about 40 percent due to the use of seat belts, the installation of air bags, education campaigns on the dangers of drunk driving, and greater police enforcement.

However, these improvements have largely stayed the same since 2009 (See “Road Safety Hits a Plateau: Fed Traffic Stats“).

Photo: Flipped car at 22nd and Hawthorne by Aaron Parecki, 2010.

1 reply
  1. Brian Gilbert
    Brian Gilbert says:

    A comletely driverless system should eliminate 90% or more deaths and injuries. There would only be jaywaliking pedestrians to cause accidents.. In a lawabiding country like Singapore they would probably only be 1% or less.

    Reply

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