Let’s start on a positive note: cars are getting safer overall, thanks not least to the automotive industry investing a large part of its R&D budget in safety. The traditional approach has been a combination of ‘passive’ and ‘active’ safety technology. Passive safety entails built-in mechanisms that protect the occupants of a vehicle when a collision occurs, such as airbags, seat belts and deformation zones. Active safety includes features such as anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC).
However, while passive safety technology has had a big and positive impact, the future lies in further enhanced active safety intelligence for vehicles. In fact, as of 2022, new active safety features will become mandatory throughout the EU due to a new type-approval requirement. This is already leading to the introduction of a second wave of active safety measures based on onboard sensors, radar, cameras, GPS and lasers as the basis for advanced collision warning and aversion systems. Technology also has the potential to support adherence to safety laws. For example, in-car devices are already being used to monitor and prevent high-risk behaviour such as distraction and speeding.