Over the past decade, bicycle travel has exploded on roads throughout the nation. While non-motorized, two-wheel transports have become a common sight, the problem with drivers “seeing” them remains a significant and potentially deadly problem.
One automobile manufacturer, Subaru, is taking steps to address the potential for serious and deadly accidents. EyeSight represents one of the earliest crash avoidance systems that is still in its early stages. The technology is composed of a suite of advanced driver assistance features. Two cameras are behind the windshield.
According to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the technology has already played a role in preventing 29 percent of bicycle crashes where the operator is parallel to the road. However, the overall number is described as “modest,” only focusing on potential parallel crashes. Researchers still need technological solutions that involve bicycles crossing in front of motor vehicles.
Already-existing automatic emergency braking decreased rear-end crashes and other vehicles by 50 percent when it comes to police-reported, rear-end collisions. However, the technology is hampered as it gets darker in the evening. Versions to protect bicyclists remain in the planning stages.
For systems to be more effective, automakers must focus on bicyclists being detected while riding in the dark, a time when fatal crash risks are at their highest. Experts see crash avoidance technology as not a solution but a failsafe effort.
While the technologies are heralded by many in the industry, fleets equipped with the systems are slow to come. While calls to improve roadway lighting, more separated bike lanes, and additional infrastructure improvements, efforts seem to be more of a “band-aid” approach.