The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics for accidents and fatalities in Tennessee show a mixed set of statistics over the period from 2004 to 2013. While fatalities in general are trending down, urban fatalities are increasing. City traffic presents many challenges to drivers who are a danger to pedestrians as well. Common situations which demand alertness and quick reactions include parked vehicles, busy intersections, pedestrians crossing illegally, construction/road repair sites, trucks entering the roadway from loading areas, and bicycles, just to name a few.
Another concern is an aging population of drivers. According to the AAA, “By the year 2030, one in every five drivers in America will be 65 years of age or older. Freedom to travel by automobile will continue to be an important factor to maintain personal independence and mental health.”
The AAA points out that drivers in their fifties and sixties are in general a population of safe and experienced drivers, yet as some individuals age, they will begin to lose critical facilities that allow them to cope in traffic.
The AAA SeniorDriving self-test helps seniors evaluate their own driving, including response time, comfort level in challenging traffic situations, and mental focus. In addition, they suggest using a mental training program such as DriveSharp to increase mental acuity.
Stillman and Friedland suggests that drivers who are worried about driving safely use the AAA self-test to determine how to improve their driving skills and reduce risk. We also agree with the AAA that it is important to have annual vision and hearing checks, or sooner, if you notice a sudden change.
Both for seniors who wish to maintain their independence and for an overall reduction in accidents, a new technology is already available and legal in some areas.
Google is one of a number of companies in the field of autonomous vehicles which both scan the road and use tracking technology to pinpoint the location of other cars on the road. (As we discussed in a previous blog, tracking technology is already in use in Tennessee to help coordinate emergency vehicles.)
One of the key points for autonomous driving is that an all-autonomous stream of cars will rely on spatial programming to stream traffic almost continuously through intersections by using irregular paths instead of the usual lanes.
While it certainly looks scary, you can see here that it certainly improves traffic flow, and solves the problem of hazardous intersections, by managing the flow of traffic precisely:
In the meantime, let’s all be grateful we avoided this commute!