Telecom and Road Safety

  May 31, 2013 1:24:19 AM

Road traffic safety is a global concern not only for public health and injury prevention but also to improve efficiencies in traffic management. As per the 2011 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 1.3 million people die and 50 million are injured as a result of road traffic crashes every year. Road traffic injuries affect all age groups, but their impact is particularly striking among the young – they are the leading cause of death worldwide among those aged 15–29 years. The report also points out to the trends suggesting that between now and 2030, road traffic injuries will rise from being the ninth leading cause of death globally to become the fifth.

State-of-the-art ICT standards do exist for Intelligent Transport Systems and driver safety that utilize a combination of computers, communications, positioning and automation technologies. The systems typically use in-car radar and camera inputs to ascertain the surrounding conditions and to provide intelligent alerts to the driver in the form of audio, steering vibrations, auto application of breaks. The global market for such Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) is worth about $ 20 billion (expected to touch $250 billion by 2020), that includes adaptive headlights, night vision, blind spot detection, roadside recognition, pedestrian detection, collision warning, intelligent speed assist and driver monitoring systems.

Road safety is one of the biggest challenges in India as well as 1 percent of the vehicular population accounts for nearly 10 percent of road fatalities. However, the use of ICT for road safety in India is almost non-existent. Moreover, the ICT which enables road safety is also a deterrent. The 2011 WHO report points out that use of the ubiquitous mobile phones, and in-vehicle communication and infotainment systems are serious enablers of driver distraction which is a growing threat to road safety.  India, with its 900 million subscribers is prone to this distraction much more than any other country in the world. However, there exist technical solutions such as MirrorLinkTM, promoted by the Car Connectivity Consortium that enables the access to a preferred set of applications on the mobile through car in-dash head units, in a safer way.

With no separate pedestrian paths and very limited subways/ skywalks across major roads, road traffic incidents are only likely to increase in India if we don’t wake up now to correct it. How can technology help? How can ISV solutions relating ADAS and MirrorLinkTM be leveraged?

Co-authored by Dr. Sridhar Varadharajan and Muralidharan Alagar

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