Monday, January 24, 2011

Future Wish List for Vehicle Safety

Last week's post was the response to me asking people via Twitter and Facebook what present safety features on vehicles they thought were the most important.  This week, the question was modified slightly:

Once again, there were a lot of comments from you that were great ideas.  They broke down into two basic categories though.
Drivers and Vehicles

And there is no way in the world I can argue with either category or the suggestions made.   Mainly because from a traffic safety stand point, they made sense and they were your opinions.

So lets look at them:
Better Skill
Annual Testing
Better Training
Pay Attention
Emotionally Stable
Common Sense
More Education
Working Brain
Advanced Training

Better Automated Lighting Systems
Winter / Snow Tires in Winter
Ignition Interlock
Radar Warning System for Objects Ahead
Proximity Alarms
Full Harness Seat belts
Roll Cages
Red Light Closing Warning
Cell / Wifi / 3G / 4G Signal Blockers
Speed Alarms (Transponders on speed signs)
Blind Spot Alarms
Pedal Extensions
Foam Stuff from Demolition Man
Emergency Vehicle Warning System
Amber Rear Turn Signals
Infra Red Warning System for Night Time Driving

As you can see, there are a lot of things that can be done from both a driver and vehicle aspect that could make our roads safer.

Some of the vehicle things that I would love to see are the signal jammers which wouldn't allow for cell phone, text, email, video signals to be sent or received in a vehicle.  (Naturally the exception being a 911 outbound call).  Ignition interlocks that would not allow a vehicle to be started if alcohol is detected from the driver. Proximity alarms for blind spots and rear area would be a nice touch also.  I'd also really like to see speed limiters.

My concern with all the technology though is that there is a real distinct possibility that drivers would start to rely too much on the technology convenience and forget the skills that are required for safe operation.  If the technology ever failed, you'd still want a driver that can operate a vehicle safely.

So, onto the driver.

Many of the things mentioned to make drivers better, therefore roads safer are already available.  Advanced driving courses, skill development training and specialized equipment (snow tires, better seat belts) are all things that each individual is capable of doing on their own or making the decisions to have them done.

Sober, attentive, aware, non-distracted drivers have made choices to be that way.  Those are choices available to each and everyone of us.  We would probably rather have everyone make a choice to put their smart phones, lap tops and music players in the glove box or trunk before they head out driving as opposed to a new law saying it has to be that way.

Like I said last time, all the best equipment in the world won't make any vehicle safer until a driver has adopted the proper skills, knowledge and abilities to use that equipment properly and displays the right behviour at all times.  The behaviour that says, "Road safety is every one's responsibility and I'm going to do my part."


  1. Interesting list. The one item that I can't get behind is signal blockers. First of all, apart from allowing through outbound 911 calls, you'd also need to allow both outbound and inbound calls from roadside assistance services, such as the CAA or those offered by car manufacturers. Secondly, blocking all cell and wireless signals assumes that only a driver is in the car - there's no valid public policy reason for blocking passengers from being able to use cell phones. Unfortunately, the cat is out of the bag on this one, and only education and legislation like is currently in place requiring hands-free usage will put it back in.

    From the vehicle perspective, I'm also a big fan of ignition interlocks. However, as more and more time goes by, the idea of a zero tolerance policy is more attractive. Since it's already a licensing requirement for young drivers, it could simply be left in place for them and phased in over time, like how the NHL made helmets mandatory.

    Finally, while I think annual testing might be excessive and unnecessarily expensive, I do think retesting is a good idea, particularly as drivers age. I can see requiring retesting every five years, as a prerequisite to the license renewal.

  2. Thanks for the feedback mlaffs!
    You made great points for consideration.