It’s the phone call everyone dreads. Parents especially spend countless nights, lying in bed, begging the phone not to ring. Yet, too often, it does. With 38,300 fatal car crashes in 2015, we are right to worry for our loved ones.In addition to the toll of physical and emotional pain a car crash can cause, a study estimated car crashes cost nearly $1 trillion in loss of productivity and life. Medical expenses for one year alone total nearly $23 billion, nationwide. Innovators in Detroit and in Silicon Valley believe these types of numbers can be wiped off the books for good, and soon.
For one, there are numerous safety features that promise to make a dent in car accident fatalities. Features today include collision warning systems, 360-degree cameras, and drowsiness alerts. Other smart features include adaptive cruise control, which monitors and keeps cars within a distance from preceding vehicles; lane keep assist, which identifies lanes and keeps cars from accidental veering, and electronic stability control, which actively slows a particular wheel to keep turns under control.While many of these features are available now, safety technology is expected to surge in 2017, a year before the Department of Transportation mandates the inclusion of backup cameras in all cars, citing the potential to save 210 lives, a third of those being children 5 years of age and under. The National Transportation Board is also actively imploring manufacturers to standardize all collision avoidance, citing the ability to save at least 1,300 lives.
Even with the high potential of these new features, there is a grander notion to completely remove human error from vehicle transportation. The nation’s biggest software, private transportation, and auto manufacturing companies are making huge investments into driverless cars. There are certainly many safety and legal questions to be answered, but 2017 is expected to be the year that driverless cars take a spin into the mainstream, as more cities and companies deploy the controversial cars onto our highways.
Could this be the beginning of the end of car accidents? 2017 will be a seminal year for the technology as more miles are logged and data collected. While parents and caregivers hold their breath in anticipation, the country’s brightest innovators are showing no signs of hitting the brakes.