One piece of kit could slash car accidents by ‘nearly a quarter’

Research suggests Advanced Driver Assistance Systems could help save lives. (Getty Images)

Car crashes in the UK could be reduced by nearly a quarter if manufacturers installed just one piece of kit, according to a study.

Fitting every car in the country with an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) would cut nearly 19,000 – or 23.8% – of accidents each year.

The technology can detect and avoid pedestrians, warn and correct if you’re straying out of a lane, recognize traffic signs and detect blind spots.

It also includes Automatic Emergency Breaking (AEB), which reduces three out of the four most common categories of accidents.

That’s according to research by data analytics firm Motion-S, and Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Center for Software at University of Limerick (UL).

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The screen in Delphi's automated vehicle shows the car stopping on its own after communicating with a stop light at an intersection at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 5, 2016. Using advanced software and hardware, Delphi's; s vehicle can communicate with streets, signs, traffic lights, other cars and even pedestrians according to the company.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The Delphi automated driving system shows a car stopping on its own after communicating with a stop light at an intersection in Las Vegas. (Reuters)

Researchers found that AEB stopped 28% of crashes at intersections, 27.7% of rear-end collisions and 28.4% of pedestrian-related accidents.

Using publicly available 2019 road safety reports from the UK, researchers predicted that fully deploying the kit nationwide would cut out 18,925 accidents a year – a reduction of 23.8%.

In May 2018, the American Automobile Association said 92.7% of new vehicles in the US had at least one form of ADAS.

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Cars with these features are becoming increasingly popular in the US and Europe too, with Brussels passing a rule requiring all registered vehicles from 2022 to have AEB.

Despite their growing usage, there has been little comprehensive research into the power of these features to prevent crashes, until now.

While many lives could be saved by ADAS, the study’s lead author Leandro Masello said it can still be limited by poor weather.

Driver POV (point of view) looking over the windshield wipers through the wet, blurry, partially opaque, partially transparent, spot speckled windshield of a car traveling on a rural highway during an autumn rain storm.  Hazy, blurred headlights of approaching vehicle traffic are just blobs of light through the streaking and splattered raindrop water.  Canon 5D Mark III.

Even advanced technological features can be limited by poor weather conditions. (Getty Images)

Writing in the Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives journal, he said: “A system that suddenly brakes to avoid a crash will perform better in dry weather conditions than in adverse conditions like heavy rain and ice, which reduces tire traction and can cause the vehicle to skid.” .

“Similarly, inclement weather also impairs the sensors’ ability to perceive the environment accurately. For example, a snowstorm could obstruct the camera vision system or cover lane boundaries.”

Tesla prides itself on its vehicles’ automated features, but not everyone is happy about the launch of its beta Full Self Driving (FSD) software.

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The company, owned by Elon Musk, is facing a lawsuit by customers who claim they were misled by claims that fully-fledged autonomous driving was imminent.

Tech entrepreneur Dan O’Dowd is campaigning against Tesla’s self-driving software, claiming its deployment has been “reckless” and the cars “unsafe”.

His campaign, the Dawn Project, includes video demonstrations on its website showing that Tesla cars with the technology installed would repeatedly run down child-sized mannequins in its path.

Tesla founder Elon Musk attends Offshore Northern Seas 2022 in Stavanger, Norway August 29, 2022. NTB/Carina Johansen via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.  NORWAY OUT.  NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY.

Elon Musk’s Tesla is facing a class action lawsuit over its fully-fledged autonomous driving claims. (Reuters)

The firm sent a cease-and-desist letter and described the clips as defamatory and misrepresentative of Tesla vehicles’ capabilities.

In November, not long after Musk took over as CEO of Twitter, the social media platform banned an advert by the group for being “too political campaign”.

Responding to the class action lawsuit, Tesla said its FDS software was designed to be used with a fully-attentive driver.

The company said the feature “identifies stop signs and traffic lights and automatically slows your car to a stop on approach, with your active supervision”.

It added that autopilot “assists in steering within a clearly marked lane and uses traffic-aware cruise control”.

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