America is one of the most driver-friendly nations on the planet, and unfortunately, this has given rise to shocking statistics when it comes to road safety. Data compiled by road safety advocates ASIRT indicates that 38,000 people die every year on US roads, with 2018 being the worst year on record, bar 1990. This shows that road safety standards are getting worse over time. The best way to promote road safety is often through low-cost methods, given that most drivers can’t afford to replace their vehicle with a more high-tech, safety-conscious variant. One such method is the use of smart apps, which are proving useful in changing how drivers behave on the road.
Most drivers who get out onto the road are, by and large, responsible. However, a momentary lapse in concentration, whether because of a distraction like a phone alert, or because a driver has stopped to look around for his or her turning, can end in accidents. An influential study published by the IFCA Proceedings highlighted the use of all-in navigation apps that use live traffic updates and historical knowledge of routes provided by users and app data collection to flexibly plan user routes. This leads to faster transit, more accurate route-finding, and a reduced rate of accident. Furthermore, it can aid in the case of no-fault collisions. Legal experts FVF Law note the importance of evidence in litigation following an accident. Drivers providing evidence of their good habits will find a better settlement in court.
The black box
This data-gathering opportunity that apps provide is also helping to improve driver behavior. In many countries, the USA included, drivers are afforded the opportunity to drive down their insurance costs by taking on data collection apps and, sometimes, drive cameras. Research conducted on telematics-led insurance in the UK found that black boxes reduced accident rates through encouraging good behavior on the road, according to The Guardian. Having data collection tools that can take the minute details of how a vehicle operates can provide a wealth of data to insurers and other parties, providing an absolute record of how appropriately a driver is operating their vehicle.
An AI future
These passive devices can help to improve driver behavior over time. What about right now? According to CommercialFleet.org, an entire stable of apps are now available that use the front-and-rear cameras of a smart phone to constantly monitor driving. Using the phone’s inbuilt sensors, they pick up slight movements, observe the road, and compare these to driver actions to give live updates on everything from potential dangerous maneuver to fuel efficiency. A potential must-have in the future, these sorts of apps will provide a consistent guide to drivers to nudge them, day by day, into safer habits.
Between the impact of AI assistants, the protection against negative litigation and the deep-level data-gathering, driving apps can be a really helpful intervention against bad driving. Over time, behavior will improve incrementally, and drivers will see the benefit in their insurance rating and in the safety they have on the roads. In turn, this will benefit the rest of the motoring society, and the public in general.