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On the Road to Safety - Milestones to Progress.

Rosenker, M V



This paper was presented by Mr Rosenker at the ACRS Seminar on Intelligent Transport Systems held in Canberra on 30th October 2007.

Well over 200 million vehicles are registered in the USA and their operation results in 3 million injuries and 43,000 fatalities annually. Those numbers are dramatic, but in the 1990s, highway fatalities dropped approximately 10% and the fatality rate, even with a substantial increase in vehicle miles travelled, dropped even more. These improvements were attributed to reduced speed limits, increased use of seat belts, airbags, crash-absorbing vehicle frames, and campaigns to reduce drunk driving.

Unfortunately, those decreases in fatalities and injury rates have levelled off since the 1990s. So, while we have accomplished much in the past decade to improve the crashworthiness of automobiles, we have reached some practical limits in combating the physical forces involved in crashes. It is time to move beyond crash mitigation and enter a new era where technology will help us prevent accidents. I recognize that this will be a tough battle to win. Less than 1 % of accidents are fatal, so to save lives, we have to prevent a lot of crashes.