Road safety is a shared responsibility among drivers, passengers, pedestrians, concerned authorities, vehicle manufacturers, and even technology developers. In other words, everyone has a part to play in ensuring that roads are as safe as possible. This is especially true in light of the sobering reality noted by the World Health Organization that road crashes kill 1.25 million people annually.
Fortunately, there has been positive progress, with technology being used in various ways to keep roads safe. That being said, here are 6 innovations that are improving road safety all around the world:
United Arab Emirates: Speed Cameras
Dubai and Abu Dhabi use state-of-the-art speed cameras—some stationery, others hidden—to better monitor their roads and prevent speeding, which pose a grave danger to pedestrians and drivers. Along with installing these cameras, authorities have also introduced stricter punitive measures against those who jump signals. We reported last year that Happiness Patrol Cars were launched in Abu Dhabi, where “police officers will reward law-abiding road users with well-deserved appreciation and gift vouchers” as part of government efforts to “promote adherence to traffic rules and regulations.”
The Netherlands: Glow in the Dark Markings
In 2014, a stretch of the Studio Roosegaarde-inspired “Smart Highway” project was opened to the public, and it uses glow in the dark markings to increase visibility and safety. This has proven especially effective at night and during less-than-ideal weather conditions when it can be extremely difficult to spot such markings. Luminescent paint was used for these markings, which are charged by solar energy during the day, and can glow for up to 10 hours when it gets dark. As such, these hi-tech markings afford motorists higher visibility compared to standard paint markings. The best part is that these innovative signs do not use electricity.
Sweden: Cable Barriers
Sweden has been installing state-of-the-art cable barriers for many years now as these hi-tech barriers help ensure road user protection. Compared to traditional solid barriers, the wired barriers can stretch and better absorb the force of a vehicle crashing into them, and help prevent the car from moving into the way of oncoming traffic. Other countries are embracing this simplistic yet effective technology as well. (Not to mention, the Swedish company Volvo is at the forefront of car safety technology.)
India: Variable Message Signs
Now in use in certain parts of India like Bengaluru and Hyderabad (and soon, in Delhi, too), these variable Message Signs are LED boards that display information that commuters, drivers, and pedestrians need to know. Among other things, these boards can update road users in real-time road and traffic conditions, like congestion, accidents, or ongoing roadwork.
United Kingdom: Smart Traffic Lights
In 2014, London authorities did a test run of their Pedestrian SCOOT (Split Cycle Offset Optimization Technique), the world’s first ever “smart” traffic light system which automatically extends the green pedestrian cross phase when many people are waiting. This system uses hi-tech cameras that can detect the number of pedestrians waiting at the crossing. Once the cameras “see” a critical mass of pedestrians, they will then transmit this bit of information to a control center that will keep the “walk” sign lit for longer periods of time, thus allowing more people to cross the road safely. The system is being used in over 3,000 junctions in the English capital, with more earmarked for the future. (Worth noting: Belgium also has a similar technology called SafeWalk.)
United States: Electronic Logging Devices
From 2010 to 2015, large truck crashes claimed over 23,000 fatalities per data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). One of the leading causes of these accidents is driver fatigue, which is why the FMCSA passed in December 2017 the Electric Logging Device (ELD) mandate requiring fleet operators to furnish their vehicles with an electronic logging device. These multifunctional ELDs, according to Verizon Connect, have replaced paper logs through automatically recording the driver’s Hours of Service (HoS) and the vehicle’s overall journey. These devices are extremely accurate and near-impossible to be tampered with. This means drivers who have exceeded their HoS will be pulled off the road, thereby lessening cases of overdriving, and by extension, potentially fatal mishaps.
Ultimately, though, technology can only do so much. As mentioned earlier, we will have to do our part, too. Take, for instance, the use of seat belts which we recommended in ‘Why You Should Always Wear Seat Belts in Dubai’. This simple act can actually save lives, yet it is often overlooked. Bottom line, technology will be useless if we don’t chip in.