How are vehicle manufacturers preventing distraction to drivers
We have often hailed in our articles that distracted drivers are the leading causes of road traffic accidents worldwide. Whether it’s passing an unusual sight and, like a magpie to a shiny object, our eyes are fixed on that instead of the road. Or, making a bad judgement call and talking on the phone, eating or smoking while behind the wheel. Taking your eyes off the road, even momentarily, can be fatal. The sad truth is that humans are easily distracted by nature. So how do you overcome something that is so ingrained into our being?
Well, leading car manufacturer’s are taking matters into their own hands. Understanding that people are always going to be easily distracted, they have set about creating new technologies to over-ride us as drivers and reduce human error. These new technologies give the vehicles the control. In what seems like a science-fiction dream modern cars are safer than ever with these amazing new technological advancements.
In this article, I’ll take you through how some vehicle manufacturers are helping in the war against distracted drivers and the new technology which is helping keep our roads safer.
Hands-free connectivity and voice controls
Most new vehicles nowadays come with a Bluetooth supported system in the dashboard. This will at least allow you to make calls hands-free. But some hands-free systems are more advanced than others. In fact, a growing number of car models also feature neat voice controls. So you can operate things like climate control, audio systems and even Sat Nav so you need never take your eyes off the road, even just for a second. Helping you to avoid distractions within the car.
While this technology doesn’t help to prevent distractions. It does alert and corrects the driving if errors are made as a result of a distraction. If you’re not paying attention and begin to veer over a road marker into the next lane without signalling then lane-assist will alert you. The alert will either be audio (a beep), or sensory (through vibrations in the seat). Advanced systems will even correct the driving by nudging the steering to guide you back into your lane.
Drowsy Driver Detection
Drowsy Driver Detection does exactly what it says on the tin. The car is able to monitor your driving style to tell if you are tired or falling asleep behind the wheel. If you suddenly change the style of your driving and begin to veer into a different lane while applying less or more pressure to the throttle then the vehicle can alert you. The system alerts you in a variety of ways from audio warnings through to sensory warnings like tugging on the seatbelt. Some systems are experimenting with visual warnings too such as an illuminated coffee cup appearing on the dashboard warning that it is time to take a break.
Again, accident mitigation doesn’t prevent the driver from getting distracted but it does prevent the dangers that occur as a result of driver distraction. The system monitors the area in front of the car for stopped cars, pedestrians or animals for example and will automatically brake to avoid them. So, if you are distracted by the kids arguing in the back. Or you lose concentration while in stop-start traffic and miss an oncoming hazard, the car will intervene to avoid a collision.
A great idea. The Groove device is aimed at eliminating the distraction of mobile phones behind the wheel. Groove is a small box that plugs into your car under the steering wheel. It connects to your phone wirelessly and informs your network provider that you are driving. Groove then blocks all incoming emails, texts and notifications from reaching the phone while the engine is running. A great handy feature is that Groove will notify people trying to reach you that you are driving. This is particularly handy for reps or people who drive for work. If the boss is calling to find out where you are, they can at least be notified that you’re driving.
Faraday Cage Armrest
Nissan recently announced a potential new addition to their popular Juke model which prevents distractions from mobile phones while driving. The Faraday Cage Armrest has a ‘Smart Shield’ which blocks incoming and outgoing cellular, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections of any phone placed inside the cage. Nissan said the Signal Shield is just a prototype but hopes it could one day offer a real solution to reduce driver distractions.
If, like me, the thought of locking your phone away brings you out in hives. Then the NAVDY might be the answer to your prayers. Interact with your smartphone without taking your eyes off the road. How? This nifty gadget sits on your dashboard and connects to your device via Bluetooth. It then projects information from your phone onto the road. Everything from text messages, SAT NAV instructions or incoming calls are made visible without having to look at your phone. Don’t worry, other road users won’t be able to see the text from your mum or your Sat Nav destination.
Navdy can be controlled via air-gestures and voice commands to allow you to send messages and emails, answer and dial calls or control your music without taking your eyes off the road.
Also known as autonomous vehicles, driverless cars are set to eliminate the risk of distracted driver accidents on the roads. The argument is that if the driver is not responsible for controlling the vehicle, then it doesn’t really matter if they are distracted by something. Seems pretty logical to me. Big car manufacturers have said that fully automated driverless cars could be launched as soon as 2020-2025.
They work by using a series of sensors and cameras which monitor the road and surroundings. Using intelligent computer systems to analyse the road and other road users the car will make decisions about when to stop, start, turn and reverse. It’s quite a magnificent development in motoring technology and one which I am excited to see unfold. The motoring industry has been one of the fastest developing industries in the world, largely down to people’s love of automobiles fueling the fire in manufacturer’s to always build better vehicle versions.
All the while there are road traffic accidents caused by distracted drivers there will be companies trying to invent ways to keep us safe. These fantastic inventions seem like pretty clever stuff. Over the next ten years, I wonder what the industry has in store. Technology in general moves so quickly, but people’s love of motorcars will always mean that car technology will need to move quickly as well to keep up with trends.