News and Reviews

Mobiles: Phoning In Road Safety

May, 2014

Congratulations! We’ve all worked hard to make the roads safer for ourselves and other drivers, and the work seems to be paying off, with a downward trend in traffic fatalities over the past few years. But now that we’re done patting ourselves on the back, we may need to worry again: you see, the number of deaths of those who aren’t driving on our roads has actually increased.

Pedestrian, motorcyclist, and bicyclist deaths now account for just under a third of all traffic fatalities in the US, and that trend isn’t limited to the States. On average, one pedestrian a week is killed on New South Wales roads. So while we’re paying more attention to other cars, the same can’t be said for the others we share the road with.

Thankfully, the University of Michigan, with funding from US Department of Transportation, is on the case. Mobile phones have become remarkably prevalent in society, breaking the barriers of age and other demographics. The researchers believe this prevalence, coupled with the network capabilities available in most modern cars, could be the key to safer roads.

Using a chip inside mobile phones, a program would run in the background for drivers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and anyone else using the road. The chip has the ability to ping the user’s position ten times a second, while an advanced algorithm determines which method of transport the user is employing. This would then allow the program to enhance the users’ awareness of the traffic around them, essentially re-creating real world space digitally in order to give everyone a better picture of what is going on all around them.

The study of this technology will be taking place over a three-year period, which means we’ll only get the results in 2017. Even then, if it proves to be an effective solution, it could be a few more years before it becomes used universally. In the meantime, your good, old-fashioned eyeballs will have to do the heavy lifting.


Do you think mobile and GPS technologies can help make our roads safer? Or are the old ways the best ways?


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