There is no silver bullet in road safety, any problem must be approached from all angles.
Our core focus is to reduce preventable road trauma. After decades of improvements in road safety, the past three years have seen increases in the number of people killed and injured on developed world roads. In the corresponding period we have witnessed an expansion in the number of drivers interacting with a phone while behind the wheel. At any given time, between 1% and 5% of drivers are manipulating a phone, at any point on the road network. The most high-risk group of road users are also those most likely to utilize a phone while driving, 1 in 20 of our young drivers are using phones at any given point in time.
Driving while distracted by a phone presents a higher crash risk than driving while intoxicated. The USA attributes 9% of its fatality crashes to distracted driving: almost 3500 deaths and almost 400000 injuries per year.
The public is aware of the dangers of distracted driving however the infrequency of consequence leads drivers to routinely pick up their phone despite intuitively knowing it is a dangerous act. In an Australian survey, 98% of respondents said distracted driving was extremely dangerous, yet 37% of that same group admitted to doing it.
With time, vehicle automation will provide a welcome solution to this crisis. This technology is still a long way from displacing the fleet of vehicles in use in the developed world, and even further away from the developing world. In the intervening period over 100 000 people per year are likely to be killed by distraction. This number can be reduced by reducing the prevalence of the poor behaviour. Enforcement provides the solution to these behavioural problems, and this has been proven in many jurisdictions. In the year after France rolled out speed enforcement cameras on its highways, fatalities reduced over 20%, and a further 20% in the next 3 years, bucking a decade long trend of only minor improvements.
Motorway Safety in Developing Economies
1,250,000 people die from road accidents every year. 90% of the yearly road fatalities occur in developing countries. These countries generally have not gone through extensive safe-systems approaches to road safety and still have significant challenges in areas that have been mostly addressed in high-income countries. We find in particular that drink driving and over-speeding are disproportionately affecting low-income countries. Acusensus believes that a significant part of addressing the challenge is related to the cost of quality systems from the developed world, and the poor traceability and performance of the systems available locally. We need to ensure that these countries have access to dependable, accurate and trustworthy systems at the price points they can afford.
Perversely, as the developing countries rapidly add more capacity to their road networks through improved infrastructure, they also increase speeds and road-miles travelled, which leads to increases in risk, accidents, injuries and fatalities. The hospital systems are already struggling under the weight of cases, yet the development powering the economic growth of the nation is also driving even further burdens on the trauma care systems.
With trauma care stretched already and funding notoriously hard to come by, it is important that every new road built should also be designed to reduce accident rates. While good road design and infrastructure is critically important, simultaneously implementing systems to encourage good driver behaviours is a very cost-effective way to keep the accidents in check.
Foreign object debris costs the aviation industry over $10b per year, and has caused several serious crashes. Detection technologies to identify this debris has historically been extremely expensive and only within reach of the most highly trafficked airports.
Acusensus believes that it can apply its cost effective technologies from the road safety space onto the airfield, bringing improved safety within reach of smaller airports and developing economy airports.