Mike Waters' Blog: 22 June 2010 - With great technology comes great responsibility
22 June 2010
Mike Waters is head of market analysis at Arval
I read recently in BusinessCar that Volvo could introduce in-car technology to stop drivers starting the engine if they are over a certain alcohol limit. The product is called Alcoguard and may arrive in the UK by the end of this year. At the same time Ford is also using another safety device called the Youth Key which could include measures such as preventing the engine from starting after midnight or when seatbelts haven't been used.
While I welcome all developments in car safety technology to help prevent accidents, it shouldn't diminish the importance of good driver habits and the fact that drivers need to take responsibility for their own safety. Needing a car to tell us whether we are safe to drive or not does set a worrying trend.
Over the last ten years, the developments in safety technology on new cars have been amazing, including developments to airbags, lane departure warning, collision mitigation braking systems and intelligent parking assist systems. New cars now have higher EuroNCAP ratings and more safety technology as standard. Manufacturers have fitted anti-lock braking systems as standard since 2004 and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) devices are widely available throughout model ranges.
Car manufacturers have done a great job in pioneering new safety technology to reduce accidents on our roads and new cars feel much safer to drive. However, this shouldn't allow us to be complacent. Driving is still the most dangerous thing that most of us do every day and in many cases it is human, not technological error, that causes car accidents. Drivers must not come to rely upon such assistance alone to keep him/her safe and accident-free.
While the introduction of system like Alcoguard are welcome to prevent drunk drivers starting the car and may also have a very positive use for the morning after, drivers should take responsibility for making sure they are fit to drive. That doesn't just include not drinking, it also includes a variety of factors such as making sure they've had enough sleep, that the weather conditions aren't dangerous and that they aren't taking medication that could affect how they drive.
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