In-car technologies are becoming more geared towards driver safety, but the reality is that the end to road carnage starts with you…
Speeding, driving under the influence, and distracted driving are among the biggest contributors to South Africa’s high road accident and fatality numbers. While law enforcement isn’t always around when it is needed, it goes without saying that South Africans still need constant reminders and reality checks in order to make even the slightest dent in how drivers behave on the road.
That being said, manufacturers such as Volvo have been playing their part in the drive towards road behaviour change. In-car technologies, such as speed limiters, are becoming more prominent in new vehicles. In fact, Volvo has plans to impose 180 kph speed limits on all its cars from 2020. This forms part of the brand’s strategy for no one to be killed or seriously injured in a Volvo by 2020. That’s quite an ambitious – but practical – safety vision in the automotive industry, and while technology alone won’t achieve this, Volvo Cars is also broadening the scope to focus on the driver’s behaviour.
So how can YOU as a driver put an end to carnage on our roads? Below, Volvo points out three of the biggest causes of road accidents and fatalities, while we offer you tips on how to avoid being a part of the statistics…
What is driving over the speed limit really worth when it could amount to serious injury or even road death – not just for you, but other innocent drivers on the road? We’ve seen some of the shocking headlines making the news recently where street racers and so-called ‘speed heroes’ have either lost their lives or been seriously injured due to reckless driving and speeding. Speed limits and road regulations are not there as guidelines, they’re there to prevent such incidents from happening (and they’re also the law).
What can you do? Set an example to any passengers in your vehicle by sticking to the speed limit. If you happen to be the passenger in a car of a driver travelling at illegal and/or unsafe speeds, insist that you won’t stand for it and remind them about why speeding is so completely ‘uncool’.
How many times have you been out for drinks with friends, a Tinder date, colleagues or family, knowing that they’d be driving home over the limit? Perhaps what’s more important to ask is, “did you do anything about it?” Sure, no one likes to be a vibe-kill but if potentially saving that person’s life (and others on the road) by insisting they don’t get behind the wheel is less important to you, then you’re part of the problem.
Reality Check: It’s time to wake up to the fact that drinking and driving is NOT cool, and to start caring more about your friends and those who choose to drive drunk. Share an Uber together, plan your night better so that no one needs to drive, or get a designated driver. There are so many alternatives out there and they’re cheaper than bail and potentially life-saving. It’s worth emotionally investing in the well-being of not only someone you care about, but the lives of others on the road. Think of it as your contribution to the human-race and help keep drunk drivers off the road.
A recent Distracted Driving Survey found that 22% of respondents admit to texting, calling or checking social media while driving. Of course, this is not only a South African phenomenon. In Alberta, Canada, claims for distracted driving increased by 58% over the past two years. Furthermore, a survey conducted in the US last year, also found that seven out of 10 people use their smartphone while driving. It is clearly still a problem.
Be attentive to how you drive and focus on the road ahead at all times. A defensive driving course will teach you that something as straightforward as keeping your eyes on the road could be the one thing that stops you from being a part of a nasty road accident. Encourage friends to keep their phones away when driving, even when in standstill traffic where smash-and-grab incidents are becoming more prevalent.
Apart from limiting top speeds, the car manufacturing company is also investigating how a combination of smart speed control and geofencing technology could automatically limit speeds around schools and hospitals in future.
“We want to start a conversation about whether car-makers have the right or maybe even an obligation to install technology in cars that changes their driver´s behaviour. We want to tackle things like speeding, intoxication or distraction,” said Mr. Samuelsson. “We don’t have a firm answer to this question, but believe we should take leadership in the discussion and be a good example.”
The problem with speeding is that above certain speeds, in-car safety technology and smart infrastructure design are no longer enough to avoid severe injuries and fatalities in the event of an accident. That is why speed limits are in place in most western countries, yet speeding remains unchanged and is still one of the most common reasons for fatalities on the roads.
“Volvo Cars South Africa intends to support the brand’s international call to lobby other car manufacturers into a discussion around what can be done to end carnages on the roads. We want to establish whether car-makers have the right or maybe even an obligation to install technology in cars that changes their driving behavior,” adds Greg Maruszewski, Managing Director of Volvo Cars South Africa.
Volvo Cars will present ideas to tackle the problem areas of intoxication and distraction while driving at a special safety event in Sweden, which will be shared globally and strategically implemented by 2020.