A vast proportion of high-income countries are benefiting from in car technology creating smarter cars, which are said to be all round safer and reliable than older cars. Advances in car technology have recent been featured at the 2013 Automotive Forum, organised by the Irish Motoring Writers' Association but warned new car technologies must take safety into consideration for the future of road safety. They warn of the dangers of distraction that new car technology can bring
Imagine your car communicating with the road infrastructure and other drivers to warn you about traffic jams or an accident; then imagine being able to stream music and video material from the internet through your car's audiovisual system and being able to consult apps from the dashboard that provide information about restaurants, hotels or shopping options on your journey.
An audience from motoring, road safety and other sectors came together on Friday at the RDS, Dublin, to hear two international speakers talk about how car technology is changing the role of the driver and how increasing levels of technology can have a detrimental effect on drivers' attention levels.
Many High-Income countries already benefit from advanced car technologies but the poorer residents and low and middle-income countries are yet to benefit.
Associate professor at the University of Leeds-based Institute for Transport Studies, Dr Natasha Merat, highlighted the results of recent studies that have shown that once a driver's primary attention is diverted by another information input – whether that be a mobile phone or a piece of technology within the car – the risk of an accident increases significantly.
"Without a doubt, technology has contributed hugely to strides in improving road safety over the past number of decades, but we need to be careful that we don't undo some of that progress by providing a dangerous level of information overload through the addition of a broad range of 'attention-grabbing' technologies inside the car," said Dr Merat.
"It is important that we realise that the term 'distraction' encompasses more than just the 'usual suspects' of, for example, mobile phone, changing music on the sound system or mp3 player, and satnavs. Chimes and dashboard displays that warn about low fuel, lane departure warning/brake assist systems and best eco-driving behaviour can all take their toll on the driver's attention."
In low and middle-income countries, used cars are widely imported from Western Europe to be used on the roads and therefore miss many of the new safety features in newer cars.
In low and middle income countries, alongside a lack in road safety laws and enforcement, safe roads and safe road users is the massive disproportion of unsafe cars. This is not to suggest that all cars in low and middle income are unsafe but rather, we illustrate the point that many cars in low and middle income countries, such as those in Africa are often 'old imports' from other parts of the world. Cars in these places are often years behind in terms of safety features and safer cars.
In addition, in some parts of the world, the same model of car exists for example in Europe and Latin America but those in Europe have a safety rating of 4-5 wheras the exact same model which has less safety features has a safety rating of 2-3. The video in the right column as part of the five pillars of global road safety; safer vehicles is explained via Global NCAP.