Vehicle collisions may result in physical damages, bodily injuries, fatalities and litigation under various theories of liability. The costs of collisions represent a major economic burden on society, and the prevention, mitigation or outright avoidance of these events present an urgent call to action for safety professionals.
Historically, our efforts to improve results fell into one of several categories:
Driver education and licensing
Vehicle modification to enhance driver control
Vehicle modification to increase survivability
Roadway design and traffic control improvements
Traffic laws and regulations (creation/enforcement) to limit behaviors
Now, technology has advanced to a point where we may be able to make the vehicle able to drive itself, with predictable rules and reactions to various dynamic situations. The research into autonomous vehicles (AVs) has yielded many technological advances that can be applied to normally piloted vehicles immediately to either enhance driver awareness of their surroundings or to intervene directly on behalf of the human operator to prevent or mitigate a collision event.
Unfortunately, the availability of these innovative enhancements is typically introduced to the automotive marketplace very slowly, and is usually as expensive options on high-end luxury cars. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can view safety enhancements as low priority, since many buyers are unfamiliar with the technology, and so-called "info-tainment" systems tend to captivate buyer's attention.
This paper provides a recap of the most common collision types recorded annually, and highlights technology options currently available for light-duty, medium-duty and heavy-duty commercial vehicles in response to those collision types. Further, non-brand-specific resources are available to help educate car operators, fleet managers and safety professionals on additional technology that is rapidly becoming available on most makes and models to address other common, but less severe, collision types.