The shocking news that gripped the nation of how a lady perished from a minor car accident has got many people questioning how such an incident could have possibly occurred. Though the official report isn’t in, preliminary investigations point to a deploy fault of the airbag. The lady’s car was reported to have had knocked the side of another car when the incident happened.
The airbag manufacturer had been recalling all car models using their product and has said that the car in question was also recalled. Unfortunately, it was not taken to be an urgent matter and has cost a life.
This unfortunate occurrence raises a broader question. Can technology, specifically data analysis reduce or even help us to avoid these kind of road and car accidents? This is especially relevant in ASEAN where we don’t have the best record as far as vehicular accidents go.
Vehicle Technology has been advancing at a rapid rate. Driverless vehicles are now a reality and will become increasingly common, but unless we are giving up on traveling passengers will still sit in driverless cars and will be subject to accident risk.
So apart from total human exclusion, is there another way road mishaps could be avoided. The answer could be in the form of Telematics – a type of black box installed in the car that comes with a number of functions, that include monitoring, measuring and assessing the cars performance on the road and sends the information in real time to manufacturers, letting them know of faults or break downs.
In fact, a quick google search on Telematics will tell you its been around for several years and basically covers a wide array of functions, including automated driving.
Currently the biggest users of the technology are the US and Italy, where insurers sell it as part of their policy. A specialist consultancy, Ptolemus, reports that there were 12million telematics-based insurance policies around the world at the end of last year, where 4million policies were generated between those two countries. The company expects the worldwide number to rise to 93million by 2020, equivalent to 10 per cent of the global motor market. By 2030, half the world’s vehicles will be insured with telematics policies, generating €250billion worth of premiums for the industry.
The encouraging part is the providers are becoming much more creative on how they are going to use the data gathered through telematics.
For instance, in Italy, telematics monitor crime. “Originally it was used to enable owners to find stolen vehicles,” says Frederic Bruneteau, managing director of Ptolemus. “And fraud detection has now been added as an objective. The fact that the technology can record a crash in a reliable manner is key.”
In the US, the aims are completely different. Jonathan Hewett, chief marketing officer at technology provider Octo Telematics in US says that “it is purely focused on pricing and upfront discounts,”. Though initially insurers would leave the boxes in customers’ cars for just a few months in order to assess driving style, with a view to giving discounts to safer drivers, but that has changed to leaving the technology installed permanently.
A very promising prospect is how the use and monitoring aspects of this tech through which the manufacturers or even authorities have real time access, could be just the thing that save lives, prevent drunk drivers from taking the wheel and maybe even inform drivers of impending malfunctions within the car. Let’s hope this takes effect soon. We definitely need the fatality numbers to come down. If humans themselves can’t do it, perhaps our inventions can.