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Car safety system nags you to prevent death

Most of us have a little voice in our heads that tells us when we’re driving like idiots. Others rely on the terrified screams of their spouses. The rest of us are clearly living on borrowed time, but a new in-car safety system, which warns you when your driving might kill you or someone else, may soon come to the rescue.

In the future, cars may have a back seat driving function built in.
In the future, cars may have a back seat driving function built in.

Engineers at Japan’s Fukuoka Institute of Technology have teamed up with heavy goods vehicle maker UD Trucks to develop what they call a “safe driving promotion system” that senses when you’re driving too close to another vehicle to stop in time. The system can then issue an audible warning of how badly you’d be injured, or just how dead your mangled your corpse would be if you crashed.

Warnings could include “you would die if you crashed at this speed,” or “your car could burst into flames if it rolled over here,” or perhaps “dear God you’re going to kill us all!”

The system, patent-pending, uses the cameras, radar, sonar and laser sensors found in many modern cars to analyse the distance to the vehicle in front. It also monitors your reaction time on previous journeys (how quickly you hit the brake after someone’s brake lights were activated) and calculates your kinetic energy to determine whether you’d be able to stop in the event of an emergency.

If it senses a probable crash, it can relay a message on a monitor and via the car’s speakers of just how badly injured you’d be if you were to bin it at that precise moment.

While it may seem like nagging for nagging’s sake, the designers of the system are convinced explicit crash warnings are the best way to make a driver think twice about dangerous driving. “By providing this information the importance of safe driving can be impressed on the driver forcefully,” they say. “Further, by informing the driver of the extent of the damage to be caused by the collision, a sense of danger can be awakened in the driver such that the driver refrains from dangerous driving behavior voluntarily.

The jury’s still out as far as we’re concerned, but it’s bound to be cheaper than a wife or husband.

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