This morning as I drove down the ring road to work I was wondering what to blog about when suddenly an idea appeared large and dangerous in my rear view mirror! I had read on the BBC website earlier a story about ‘crash proof cars’ which I thought was quite interesting, but it appeared that such a car already existed – certainly the lady in the 10-year-old white Fiesta behind me thought her car was crash proof!
Now the idea of making cars ‘incapable’ of crashing is not a new one – companies like Mercedes and Volvo have for a number of years been researching this, and started to add ‘radar’ based systems on their cars in recent years. These either take the form of ‘smart’ cruise controls that maintain a set distance or emergency brake systems that can stop you in an emergency automatically!
If I am honest I am not 100% sold on these systems – partly due to seeing the Volvo press demo of their braking system fail (and the car plough into the item it was supposed to stop behind). But also because I like to retain control of things!
Now as far as the lady in the Fiesta was concerned she obviously had reactions far swifter than a Formula One driver – she was very close to my rear (and no I was not going slowly or travelling slower than the traffic in front) and if I had stopped suddenly she would have hit me. She obviously believed she could stop, which raises the question of how we teach people to drive and more importantly how we manage their continuing development!
As a Chartered Surveyor I have to complete continuous professional development and prove this to my governing body – the RICS – lawyers, accountants and most other professions are the same. Frankly it makes sense, we need to be up to speed with all current thinking and still be competent.
But with driving we can pass a test, and then drive for 50 or 60 years with no further testing (unless we have a very bad accident and kill someone) – surely that is wrong? Over 70% of accidents are caused by driver error so by developing ‘un-crashable cars’ are we not approaching the problem from the wrong direction?
And to the lady in the Fiesta (who won’t be reading this)? I hope you see Christmas, because if you continue to drive like that you may be another statistic before then. The wording from all car manuals relating to anti-lock brakes is a good adage to follow;
You cannot rewrite the laws of physics – if you are going too fast nothing will save you!