Success in improving road safety is achieved by applying the ‘traditional’ 3 E’s: Engineering, Education and Enforcement, preferably in combination.
‘Engineering’ refers to building safer road infrastructure, traffic engineering and vehicle and equipment safety.
Road safety ‘education’ is a combination of driver training, and public education, in the form of promotions or advertisements on radio, television and social media.
‘Enforcement’ of the road rules primarily by Police makes up the third ‘E’. Enforcement and education are much more effective when used together.
There is also reference by a number of road safety experts to another ‘E’: ’emergency response’ – getting crash victims medical treatment in a timely manner.
Road Safety Technology
Road safety engineering is being transformed by technology, particularly with advances in providing dynamic safety warnings and traffic control, such as variable speed limits and advanced safety technologies in vehicles.
Connected vehicles provide considerable crash reduction opportunities, moving from static to dynamic decision support and warning systems for drivers, through to automated fail safe systems.
Autonomous or driverless vehicles are promoted on the basis of providing enormous safety benefits, which in theory looks promising. The concern is the short-term transition period where some vehicles are driven by technology and others by human drivers, who make unpredictable errors or are distracted.
Automated enforcement has become more cost-effective and pervasive through the application of technology, in particular the success of speed and red light cameras in improving driver behaviour. It can be deployed all-day, every-day at little cost.
The ‘perception’ of the driving public that the whole network is being ‘managed’ or monitored, by using technology like speed over distance or point-to-point enforcement, has an important psychological effect, over single point enforcement and could have considerable safety benefits. The human body can only absorb so much energy and speed is the critical factor in the energy equation.
The logical extension is for enforcement to utilise in-vehicle technology to monitor compliance to the road laws, if privacy concerns are overcome or overridden. For example, seat belt warning system in the car could become an extension of the road safety enforcement system!
The next road safety ‘E’: encouragement
Now as a result of application of technology we are beginning to see a fifth ‘E’: ‘encouragement’, which has emerged as a disruptive business model.
An emerging trend for innovative insurance companies insuring vehicles and drivers is the Pay as You Drive (PAYD) – proving economic incentives (‘encouragement’) to drive safer. A number of Australian insurance companies provide this option.
Rather than setting premiums for ‘average’ risks for an age group, drivers can opt to provide insurance companies with their specific risk profile, currently on the basis of the insured declaring their car usage, in return for (usually reduced) individual premiums. This could easily extend to providng access to in-vehicle technology, monitoring how much, when and where they drive.
The next frontier is Pay How You Drive (PHYD) – which involves allowing the insurance company to monitor a number of aspects of driving behaviour, such as speeding, acceleration and braking, response to driving conditions, parking; even automatic advice of any infringements from enforcement agencies – a new meaning to ‘connected vehicles’.
If you are a safe driver this is attractive as your insurance premium will be fairer. If you are not as safe a driver then your premium will become more expensive, again encouraging safer driving.
Effectively this emerging insurance business model is outsourcing enforcement, by providing individual drivers financial encouragement to encourage safer driving behaviour. A disruptive innovation in the field of road safety.