Death byhumane error
PEOPLE kill other people on the road. Research around the world shows that the vast majority of car crashes — not accidents — are caused by driver error.
It can be anything from a moment of inattention to fatigue, inappropriate speed, poor driving skills or even a mis-read on what another driver is doing.
‘‘Eighty percent or more of accidents are caused by driver error. Human beings make mistakes,’’ says Dr Joerg Breuer, head of active safety development work at Mercedes-Benz. He says the goal for car companies is to provide early warnings, helpful technology and driver-assist systems to minimise the consequences of mistakes on the road.
‘‘We are trying to assist the driver. We can sometimes evaluate a situation faster than the people involved,’’ he says.
He disputes the need for cars that drive automatically, but says technology is already doing a great job.
ABS braking allows people to steer away from a potential crash, instead of sliding
into an impact with all four wheels locked solid, while ESP stability control helps straighten cars that are sliding out of control.
‘‘The minority of people are now killed inside the car,’’ he says.
He also worries that people think that cars can do everything for them, defying the laws of physics, and that people have an unrealistic idea of how things work.
‘‘Like the airbag. People think it is like a soft pillow, but it’s like being hit in the head with a soccer ball,’’ he says.
Look, no hands: (above) An automated driving system in a Mercedes-Benz car collects data on vehicle responses in situations where it is too dangerous to use a human driver.
Crash site: (right) The Mercedes-Benz simulator cost $27 million.
Beware: Mercedes-Benz envisions cars warning drivers of hazards such as traffic jams around a bend or black ice on the road.
Danger lurks: (left) The blind spot assist system activates a light in the relevant side mirror when it detects another vehicle.