Each year, thousands of people flock to the Washington, DC Auto Show to see what automakers are introducing and what the emerging trends are. This year is no different; from February 1-10th, there are over 700 new makes and models on two floors of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. In addition to the cars, visitors can talk to safety experts at The Advanced Technology SuperHighway, which showcased new technologies in cars. Supplemented by the guide “Advanced Technology Systems: A Walking Tour of the New World in Driving,” written by Washington Post reporter and automotive industry expert Warren Brown, the SuperHighway helped attendees understand all of the strides being made in automobile safety.
In recent years, governments around the globe have encouraged improvements to Active Safety Systems, which prevent crashes from happening, and Passive Safety Systems, which reduce injuries in the event you are in a crash. An increased number of airbags, new partial front end crash tests and onboard communication systems are some of the innovations automakers have made to protect drivers and passengers. Though the number of traffic fatalities has decreased in recent years, studies show that 90% of the traffic crashes that happen are the result of driver error. That number can be lowered by engineering the tools drivers need and putting them right at the driver’s fingertips when they are in the car.
To that end, automakers are looking at ways to create new safety features and use new technology to prevent crashes altogether. Many cars let drivers use their smartphones and tablets for navigation by seamlessly integrating them into the dashboard, so drivers can know where they are going without having to take their eyes off the road as often. The number of available onboard communication tools has increased, making communication with emergency personnel after a crash easier and more reliable. Crash avoidance technologies and rear cameras help drivers know what’s around them even if they can’t see it, and lane departure warning systems prevent overtired drivers from unknowingly leaving their lane. Technology exists to cut down on blind spots; some cars have cameras in the side view mirrors that connect to in-dash display screens, providing the driver a broad view of what they can’t see with their own eyes. And cars can stop themselves if a driver doesn’t notice another vehicle in front of them.
In our fight against drunk driving, The Century Council actively follows advancements in technology that improve highway and traffic safety. We supported the ROADS SAFE Act, and applauded its inclusion in the highway transportation bill that passed Congress last year and are monitoring the technology stemming from the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) program. Our teen driver safety resource, IKnowEverything, reinforces safe driving concepts for new drivers and encourages the responsible use of GPS and navigation technology only when a vehicle is not in motion. As research and technological advancements continue, The Century Council will continue to promote those that are effective in the fight against drunk driving and underage drinking.