Accidents happen. Unfortunately, they are happening more often. In fact, 2012 saw the first increase in motor vehicle related fatalities reported since 2005. Commercial vehicle accidents followed this trend with an increase of 3.7% in fatalities from 2011 to 2012, despite stricter regulations to control drivers' hours of service, the use of electronic hand-held devices, and other measures intended to make our highways safer.
In order to turn the tide, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, along with trade groups, research institutes, and many motor carriers themselves have been looking towards new technologies that will provide drivers with early warning and detection of road hazards before they lead to accidents.
Imagine cars that talk to each other. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US is doing more than imagining it. The NHTSA is seeking to require new “vehicle-to-vehicle” technology in new cars. The new technology would have cars communicating with each other to alert the driver of potential crash situations. Data from a recent US Transportation Department of about 3,000 vehicles showed that “vehicle-to-vehicle” technology could help avoid collisions in 70% to 80% of potential accident situations involving sober drivers. This technology uses short-distance radio networks, capable of sending signals up to 300 yards, to communicate a vehicle's position, speed and direction. Vehicles could be equipped with technology to track the position of other vehicles and sound an alert if a collision was imminent, even if the oncoming car wasn't visible to the driver.
While it will take some time before new car requirements come into effect and even more time for enough vehicles capable of talking to each other to make their way on highways, there are a lot of other accident avoidance options already available that are helping individual drivers as well as commercial fleets manage their risks on the road. XL Group’s Risk Bulletin "Accident Avoidance Systems for Commercial Vehicles: Emerging Technologies" provides an overview of some of the most promising of these accident avoidance systems currently on the market.
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