If there is one thing that is silently killing people on our roads today it’s the lack of attention some drivers are paying to the road and their surroundings. With cars getting safer and the message on drink driving and seat belts having a positive impact on our road toll the focus is turning to other causes of road trauma. In Western Australia they’ve built a car which responds based on your attention span.
WA’s Peak motoring body the RAC have taken an every-day road car and added some pretty amazing technology. Using sensors on the drivers head inside and around a small helmet like contraption, an inbuilt computer can detect if the driver is paying attention – if not – the car slows down.
Imagine you are distracted by your phone, or the radio, or your passenger. The car will notice then and slowly reduce its speed creating a safer experience and at the same time alerting the driver to the problem.
While at its core this is about raising public awareness of the problem there is some real research that can be done here using this vehicle.
The RAC plan to send it out and have tasks performed by the driver in a real world situation. Data from these tests can then be collated to show what factors resulted in the driver stopping paying attention, what percentage of time they were paying attention and a range of other things.
Some years ago Western Australia had the lowest per capita road toll numbers in Australia – today, they have the highest and inattention is being blamed as one of the biggest killers with up to 12% of deaths due to inattention. Add to that the untold numbers from non fatal trauma and it’s a very serious issue.
I’d love to see the stats on a simple glance at the phone, the sending of a text and even the taking of a phone call – just how much attention can we pay to the road? Hopefully soon the RAC will be able to tell us.
For more information on the Attention Powered Car, and to view a series of “webisodes”, visit ForTheBetter.com.au