When comes to bicycle safety, one factor that seems to be missing from the conversation is the role that distracted motorists play in causing bicycle accidents. Very often, motorists who are distracted because they’re using their cell phone while driving, or engaging in other activities while driving, fail to notice the narrow frame of a bicycle. By the time they notice a bicyclist, it is often too late.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the rate of bicycle fatalities per 10 billion vehicle miles traveled, actually increased substantially between 2005 and 2010. In the case of a bicyclist, the rate of fatalities actually increased from 18.7 in 2005 to 24.6 in 2010. A bicyclist, who is hit by a distracted driver, is much more likely to be male, non-Hispanic, and white. Those accidents typically occur just outside of a crosswalk.
In that context, news that General Motors will soon release a line of vehicles that come with eye and head tracking technology to help detect signs of distracted driving by a motorist, is very welcome indeed. The line of vehicles will include eye tracking technology, that will analyze the motorist’s’ eye movements, and determine whether he’s focusing on the road or somewhere inside the interior of the car. If he is not focusing on the road, the device will immediately alert the driver that he’s in danger of causing an accident.
Technologies like these are extremely welcome, especially because motorists have access to so much technology in their cars that is designed to cause accidents, and not prevent them. For instance, computers on dashboards that are found in an increasing number of cars, simply encourage motorists to be even more distracted while driving. That increases their risk of causing an accident that could injure, or even kill a bicyclist.