Over the years, lots of innovation has occurred in the name of improving driver safety. Nationwide programs have sought to eliminate distracted driving habits, roads are constantly maintained maximum safety, and cars are increasingly designed to better withstand accidents. Yet, the numbers associated with motor vehicle accidents remain staggering. According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration1, an estimated 32,675 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. in 2014—down only 1 percent from 2013.
Perhaps numbers like this one have inspired the launch of a number of innovative new products and services in recent years. Some of the newer ways of protecting drivers are attempting to do so by fixing very specific problems. Specifically, we’ve seen exciting new initiatives and products aimed at three areas: protecting drivers operating shipping projects, supplying average commuters with emergency tools, and training young drivers to practice safe habits.
Protecting Drivers In Shipping
Commercial fleets conducting shipping business account for a huge number of vehicles, and it’s in the best interest of the companies involved to protect drivers. Furthermore, drivers in this business can sometimes operate with relatively high risk. They drive long hours, which leads to tired driving and distractions as drivers attempt to stay busy and entertained; they sometimes travel unfamiliar territory; and the physical aspect of operating a large fleet vehicle can be challenging.
It’s actually GPS tracking associated with the ever-expanding “Internet Of Things” that’s beginning to change conditions for these types of drivers. According to Verizon’s Networkfleet Program2, GPS-based vehicle tracking can enable companies to track, monitor, and manage their vehicle fleets. Fleet management headquarters can now see where each individual vehicle is and even monitor the conditions of those vehicles. This enables them to manage driver hours, keep vehicles safe, and even map out the most efficient routes. These perks may appear to exist primarily for the sake of operational efficiency, but that same efficiency makes drivers less likely to adopt unsafe habits in an attempt to overcome poor conditions. A driver on a strictly monitored system is less likely to speed, cut corners, try unfamiliar routes, or stay active for dangerous hours. For that matter, resqme, Inc.’s alertme™ tool can also be very helpful for fleet drivers who do still have to work long hours, or for anyone driving with a risk of growing tired. The tool fits over your ear like a bluetooth and alerts you if you start to nod off!
Supplying Commuters With Safety Tools
Most people know general safe driving techniques, whether or not they choose to follow them. There will always be struggle to get more drivers acting safely on the road. But among 30,000+ deaths that occur annually due to accidents, a number of them also occur due to unsafe circumstances that may not have to do specifically with a driver’s actions. Consider, for example, an incident reported last month in which a driver’s Ford Fiesta gradually caught fire for no apparent reason. The driver and his family saved themselves thanks to a persistent smokey smell that led to their exiting the vehicle. However, in some instances, similar issues can prove fatal due to car issues resulting in automatically locked doors and windows.
The driver in this instance recommended to anyone reading the story to keep a hammer in the car at all times (so as to break a window if escaping the vehicle is an issue). But this is also where some of our own resqme® products can help. The resqme® Original Keychain in particular can be a life saver in situations that would otherwise result in more accident-related deaths, as it helps with escape from seat belts and sealed cars.
Instilling Safe Habits In Young Drivers
We’ve also seen various companies taking steps to help with the education process as it applies to young drivers. Every young driver goes through a period of instruction in order to receive a license, and the hope is that the lessons learned during this stage will last. But unfortunately, young drivers are among the worst offenders when it comes to distracted driving in particular, and in turn are responsible for a significant portion of motor vehicle accidents.
Perhaps the most interesting company combatting this trend is SmartWheel USA, which has invented a product designed to teach and enforce safe driving habits. Specifically, they’ve invented a sort of steering wheel cover that alerts drivers to unsafe behavior (such as taking hands off the wheel). The wheels also track driving habits so that young drivers can gain a more thorough understanding of whether or not they’re being appropriately safe.
Hopefully with all of these tools in place for various types of drivers, the next few years will see the horrific numbers of accident-related deaths finally begin to decline significantly!
Cory Bowman is freelance writer and web designer based out of Virginia. His work primarily concerns themes in technology, travel, and lifestyle.
Get Your Teen Ready for the Open Road
By Guest Author, Marcus Beatty
Younger drivers, those under 20 years of age, are three times as likely to be involved in an accident, reports the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. You have enough on your mind with a new teenage driver without worrying about the car your child is driving. You also do not want to purchase a brand new vehicle for a new driver. On top of educating your teen, your solution is to ensure that the vehicle your teen drives is safe and reliable.
How Mechanical is Your Young Driver?
Some teenagers have substantial mechanical skills, others do not. Take the time to educate your teen about motor vehicles. If you do not have the skills, find someone who does. Your teen should know the basics of changing a flat tire and jump-starting a dead battery.
Additional knowledge can further improve safety on the road. Your teen should learn the signs of potential brake failure. If the brake pedal begins to go to the floor, or the brakes are making loud noises, the vehicle should be inspected. Your young driver needs to be aware of how the vehicle handles. If the car becomes difficult to control, it should be pulled off the roadway.
How Safe and Reliable is the Vehicle?
Take a used vehicle to a mechanic you trust and have it inspected before you purchase it. This may not always be possible and not all issues are noticed on an inspection. When you are looking at used car safety and reliability ratings, check a few sources. You want to get unbiased opinions and accurate information.
Look at sources including Kelley Blue Book, Consumer Reports and even Forbes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides a link that allows you to stay up-to-date with any safety recalls. You can also use a manufacturer’s website to determine if the vehicle has any special safety features, including additional air bags.
How are Your Young Adult’s Driving Skills?
Driving skills come with experience that beginning drivers do not have. This makes it all the more important for a vehicle to have reliable brakes and well-maintained suspension. Discuss possible mechanical failures with your teen and provide solutions. If the power steering fails, your teen should understand that the car could be controlled by using extra arm strength, with both hands on the wheel. If the brakes fail, your teen needs to look for a safe area to bring the vehicle to a stop.
Remind your young adult about the dangers of drinking and driving. Emphasize accidents caused by drinking and not using seat belts.
Add a Few Safety Measures
Give you teen a safe driving kit. The car should have a can of Fix-A-Flat or other temporary tire repair, a set of jumper cables and a quart of oil in the trunk. You teen also needs to know how to use these items. Finally, over emphasize the importance of not using a cell phone while driving. For young adult drivers, this includes not talking on a phone much less texting on one. Texting while driving is illegal in most states. Many states ban any cell phone use by new drivers.
About the Author:
Marcus is a retired social studies teacher and grandfather of 12 who blogs from his log cabin.