Clever cars put the brakes on accidents

New car tech development needs to move up a gear...
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

New car tech development needs to move up a gear...

In-car technology projects underway in Europe could stop thousands of accidents every year, according to the European Commission.

Driving the development of smarter, safer and cleaner cars is part of the EU's European Information Society 2010 (i2010) strategy to boost growth and jobs in the digital economy.

The 'intelligent car' is one of three i2010 flagship projects aiming to show how IT can improve quality of life. But the EC is warning more work needs to be done.

Across Europe, traffic congestion costs amount to €50bn per year - 0.5 per cent of the EU's GDP, and this could double by 2010.

According to the EU, a series of innovations could put the brakes on accidents across Europe if adopted.

They are:

  • If all vehicles in the EU were equipped with automatic emergency call technology by 2010, road accident fatalities could be reduced by five to 15 per cent. The system could also reduce time lost to traffic congestion by between 10 and 20 per cent, with cost savings of €2bn to €4bn.
  • Autonomous Cruise Control could prevent up to 4,000 accidents per annum if just three per cent of vehicles were equipped with it by 2010.
  • Systems to warn if a car is wandering out of its lane could prevent 1,500 accidents per year, even if a mere 0.6 per cent of vehicles had it installed in four years - or 14,000 accidents if take-up was more like seven per cent.
  • The Awake project is developing a driver 'hypovigilance' system that wakes up drowsy drivers, and estimates its work can prevent up to 30 per cent of fatal crashes on motorways and nine per cent of all fatal crashes.

EC information society and media commissioner Viviane Reding said in a statement: "Intelligent cars can help solve our key road transport problems: safety, traffic congestion and energy consumption. But citizens and policy makers cannot be expected to invest in or to promote car safety technology unless its benefits are clear.

"This is why I call for strengthening industry and policy efforts to make intelligence through information and communication technologies an integral part of all vehicles built in Europe."

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