I was asked to attend the Great British Fleet Event by our marketing manager Gary Bates, and to be honest I didn’t really know a lot about it – but I pretended I did and said yes!
It was a drizzly and cold Thursday morning wandering around Hammersmith trying to find a hotel using Google Maps on an iPhone getting rapidly wet – so I wasn’t in the best of moods.
But as it turned out it was a good place to be that day and I learnt a lot from the exhibition area, where four major manufacturers were present promoting their products.
What was especially interesting is that all four (or is it three?) car makers; BMW, MINI, MG and Nissan were heavily promoting their electric vehicles and the advertising for these cars featured safety very strongly.
For instance, the Nissan Leaf features a system called ProPilot which automatically pre-sets the distance between you and the car in front. It also has ‘intelligent automatic braking’ with pedestrian detection.
The new MG ZS EV also features bicycle detection within its monitoring systems.
The MINI Electric goes on sale in March and was at the Great British Fleet Event. This car will feature eCall, which automatically calls emergency services should the airbags deploy, using the 112 number so it works across Europe.
Obviously these cars feature many more safety systems than the few I’ve mentioned here, but these are the ones that jumped out at me.
Before I would have cynically thought that car makers plug safety as a means to market cars and make them more attractive to buyers – but the level to which they are going with active and passive systems is just mind-boggling.
Some people often say to us that such systems take away the need for driver skill and they should not be encouraged. However there will always be the need for human judgment, so it works in tandem with the safety detection systems now on offer in these cars.
It is a fact that the vast majority of crashes are caused by human error – so why not let technology help us out a bit?
Within my lifetime, I have seen anti-lock brakes and airbags not only arrive in luxury cars, but mainstream cars too – and we are at a point where we do not even question whether a car has them or not.
And today it would be unthinkable to set off without wearing a seatbelt – yet this wasn’t even compulsory to be worn in the front of a car until 1983 (yes I remember it well, the year the pound coin came out and Culture Club rather confused everyone, feel old yet?!) and in the rear until 1991.
So the point I was making in a very roundabout way was that technology is nothing to fear – and man (and woman) and machine can and must work together to save more lives.
By Rodney Kumar, IAM RoadSmart media relations manager