Featuring Bryan Reimer, Research Scientist at MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics' AgeLab
Trends in auto safety are moving in the wrong direction. The number of traffic deaths in the United States over the past two years has increased by 14%, according to the National Safety Council, the largest jump in nearly a half century. More than 40,000 people died on our roads last year alone, the most since 2007. And another 4.6 million were seriously injured, a 7% increase from 2015.
The financial implications are staggering as well. The NSC estimates that motor vehicle deaths, injuries, and property damage cost more than $432 billion in the U.S., a 12% increase from 2015.
So what are automakers and technology companies doing about this problem? Investing billions of dollars—but not primarily on new safety upgrades that could be deployed in your next vehicle. Instead, that money is being funneled into building the driverless and autonomous vehicles of the future. In the rush to achieve fully autonomous driving, it appears we may be shorting advances in near-term technology development, says Bryan Reimer, research scientist in the MIT’s AgeLab and the associate director of the New England University Transportation Center at MIT. He is concerned that a significant investment in autonomy is presenting a barrier to more incremental increases in safety, during the transition from driven to driverless.
“With every investment comes a cost; there is just so much money in any one pot,” Reimer says. “What is the cost of focusing on autonomy rather increased investment in human centered driver aids, also known as advanced driver assist systems (ADAS), that can help us today?”...