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Futuristic Auto Safety Features Coming Soon

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That accident in the Town of Tonawanda that took the life of a 12-year-old boy riding his bicycle to football practice continues to bother me. The driver wasn’t charged. She had a green arrow to turn left onto Sheridan Drive. The boy probably didn’t notice the green arrow because all the other lights were red and he thought he could cross safely. Just a terrible accident.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 90 percent of fatal accidents are due to driver error. You wouldn’t be able to blame the driver in this particular case, but is there something that could have prevented it? Possibly.

There’s already technology used in some vehicles already that apply the brakes quicker than a driver could when it senses pedestrians or other vehicles. A computer system measures your speed, the distance to the object and calculates that if you don’t slow down you’ll collide with something. It starts the process of slowing down automatically. The Mercedes-Benz E Class already has it, and there’s a push to make it standard in all vehicles.

Some good news is that the number of fatalities continues to decline from the 1970s and ‘80’s when more than 50,000 were killed on U.S. highways each year. In 2011, the most recent year that numbers are available, just over 32,000 were killed. That’s a tremendous drop, but experts say even that number could be cut in half.

There’s even a push to install alcohol detection devices in every vehicle. If it sensed you might be too drunk to drive you wouldn’t be able to start the engine. So what if you get somebody sober to start it for you? If you try to drive, the engine will still shut down. Crazy stuff. Almost like out of The Jetsons, but it just might be standard stuff in the next few years.

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