Distracted driving caused 3,142 traffic fatalities in 2019. Provisions in the new infrastructure legislation call for advancing further study and implementation of collision warning systems to reduce fatalities. - Photo via pixabay.com

Distracted driving caused 3,142 traffic fatalities in 2019. Provisions in the new infrastructure legislation call for advancing further study and implementation of collision warning systems to reduce fatalities.

Photo via pixabay.com

With 90% of crashes involving human error — much of which is distracted driving — collision warning systems have proven to be an effective tool to help drivers avoid collisions. The recent passage of the Infrastructure Act has put a spotlight on the significance of the technology and calls for a rule that will set minimum performance standards requiring all vehicles sold in the U.S. to be equipped with collision-warning technology within five years.

Specifically, a provision in the legislation requires the Department of Transportation to study how driver monitoring systems can enhance driver focus and curb distracted driving, which was responsible for 3,142 lost lives in 2019 alone.

Simply put, the new legislation will accelerate the in depth exploration and further adoption of advanced driver alert systems.

Experts say that advanced driver assistance technologies can help reduce roadway fatalities. For example, a 2018 study by AAA Foundation found that various advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) — including collision warning systems — had the potential to prevent a combined total of approximately 40% of all passenger-vehicle crashes, 37% of injuries that occur in crashes involving passenger vehicles, and 29% of all deaths in crashes that involve passenger vehicles.

As the new Infrastructure bill becomes law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be tasked with developing effective safety policy. Finding the balance between being predictive and providing timely warnings that allow for collision avoidance, while also providing an unobtrusive driver experience that maximizes safety and privacy, is a complex problem. 

Moreover, experts agree that over-reliance on collision warning and other ADAS technologies can be problematic, as the systems may make some drivers too complacent and less focused on the task of commanding the vehicle.

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