Every major car manufacturer in the world has predicted fully autonomous vehicles within the next 10 years. In a world filled with cars that already have lane warning systems, backup cameras, GPS systems, automatic emergency braking, and automatic parking systems, this transition seems logical. New technologies for the auto industry include laser illuminating detection and ranging (LIDAR) and environmental detection systems that can distinguish the difference between a pedestrian and a stop sign. So how long will it be before you can set your car on a circuit and play Pokemon GO?
Backup camera systems aren’t just a nifty little gadget. When I was about 13 years old, I parked my bicycle behind a car at a local bait and tackle shop, between the car and the building. I had no idea that the car was parked there because it was going to back up to the garage door to pick up a load of gear. I ran in to the shop and a few minutes later I heard some old man yelling and cursing, and when I looked out I saw my bike halfway under his car, mangled and bent, while the old man’s arms were waiving and he was screaming about a scratch on his bumper. There was a lot of drama involved, my Dad came up, and they came to some agreement, I loaded the remains of my bike in Dad’s truck, and got a stern talking to on the way home about the importance of using the bike rack next to the store. There’s no doubt that it was a horrible memory, as it sticks with me more than 30 years later. This all might have been avoided if cars were equipped with back up cameras in the 80’s.
When you mention car safety to folks, the first two safety features in a car that come to mind are seat belts and air bags. Over the last 50 years, safety engineers have been working hard to find other ways to keep drivers and passengers safe. In the 1970’s, automotive fatalities were peaking at 50,000 per year. Fatalities declined due to greater seat belt use regulation and the invention of the shoulder type seat belt. We’ve all seen the crash test dummy videos, but automobile safety has become more interactive than ever.
The leading cause of death for children under the age of 13 in America is vehicle related injury. And Americans spend a lot of time driving. According to the US Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the average American parent drives 15,000 miles a year, which puts America at 4.8 billion total miles a year. That is a LOT of driving. We bring our kids with us on many of those 4.8 billion miles. Going to the park, the babysitter, school functions, dance recitals, and family vacations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the places we travel in our cars with our children. We dutifully strap our kids in the baby car seat, and take off into the world; it’s the American way. There are car seat laws, and we all know that using them is common sense. Are we keeping our kids as safe as we can though? Here are a few tips and reminders for making sure our next generation arrives safely at every destination.