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Tech needs credit for dropping road deaths

The number of deaths on New Zealand highways has dropped to a record low of just under 300 this year.
Written by Darren Greenwood, Contributor on

The number of deaths on New Zealand highways has dropped to a record low of just under 300 this year.

Naturally, the authorities are claiming credit by suggesting their anti-speed and similar campaigns are the reason, though it might well be that many of our roads are becoming so congested, it is increasingly harder to drive at "killable" speeds at all!

But I think technology can take a decent amount of the credit, too.

Over the years, we have seen technology being used to develop safer cars that allow passengers to survive a tougher crash than in days gone by. We now see technology in the form of electronic stability control devices, making it harder to lose control of your vehicle.

Furthermore, there are devices under development that make it hard for you to speed and will soon be introduced.

We're also seeing cars that can "read" the roads and road signs to further boost safety.

But it's not just about building better cars. Technology is also saving lives by making it quicker to call for help.

Gone are the days when people would be hunting around for a payphone or pestering some householder by a roadside. Virtually everyone has a mobile device they can call for an ambulance, thus saving valuable minutes.

The GPS technology mobile phones use can also help authorities track down the location of a vehicle, fostering fast delivery of ambulances — especially useful if you have run off the road and you don't know where you are.

Mobile technologies will also allow better treatment in the ambulance or on the roadside before the injured are taken to hospital.

There have been many studies claiming lives have been saved by speed cameras, no doubt thanks to governments and road safety agencies with an agenda in mind. I am sure the tech sector, particularly the telcos and the phone manufacturers, could do more to spread the message of how it has done its bit to boost road safety.

Of course, there will be a limit to how much technology can deliver.

Should we ever see cars that can really drive themselves, as Google and others are developing, who will be held responsible when they kill?

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