Interesting article about technology and improving the safety of those around us.
As biking grows in popularity in the U.S., car-on-cyclist collisions continues to be a major issue for two-wheeled urbanites. A one-year study in Portland, Oregon, found that out of 1,000 cyclists, 18 percent suffered at least one injury, and 30 percent of those injured required medical attention. What to do? Take the same airbag technology used to protect occupants inside the vehicle and move it to the outside.
Danish design company TNO is working on just that, and is getting a financial boost to the tune of 1 million euros from the Dutch government to develop a new breed of exterior airbags.
In the Netherlands, where bicycles are ubiquitous, approximately 200 cyclists (and 70 pedestrians) are killed each year after being struck by a car. If a car is going faster than 25 mph – the average speed of an accident in the Netherlands – a collision with a bicyclist is usually fatal, and helmets don’t help much during an impact of 12 mph or greater.
TNO looked at every detail of a cycle crash, specifically at the impact points at a vehicle’s front end, concluding that automatic braking and external airbag positions at the bottom of the windshield would reduce the severity of crashes dramatically.
Using information from a camera mounted on the rear-view mirror, the system preps for a collision, and if the car strikes a bicyclist, the airbag will inflate and cushion the rider’s impact on the windshield.
The camera diagnostics that initiate the automatic braking and airbag deployment are the result of a year’s testing while driving through major Dutch cities in a camera-equipped car. After all those near-misses with pedestrians and cyclists, the system has been optimized to kick in only when it calculates a high risk of collision.
For Volvo, this is nothing new. The 2013 V40 already has this feature, but the technology won’t be making its way across the Atlantic. So until a version becomes standard, keep your helmet on and your lights blinking.
The Law Offices of Timothy J. Ryan & Associates represent those who have been involved in a auto/pedestrian accident and auto/bike accident. If you have been injured please contact us for a free review of your case.