India is a country which has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest rates of traffic accidents in the world, making road safety a pressing issue nationwide. According to a McKinsey report, transport would emerge as one of the most capital-intensive sectors in the country by 2030, where investments into building road infrastructure and ensuring road safety will top the priority. In 2017-18, 9,800 km of highway roads were constructed, the target for 2018-19 is a mammoth 40 km a day, putting basic safety a serious cause for concern. India is responsible for nearly 11% of the road fatalities across the globe and aims to reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities by 50% by 2020 in accordance to the ethos of the Brasilia Declaration.
Driving Emerging Technology to Road Safety
To address the problem of road safety, the need of the hour is to get to the root cause. More than 75% of road accidents that have occurred could have averted by improving driving standards and imparting training to the drivers. Training has the potential to reduce about 75% of the fatalities and injuries.
To drive effective road safety solutions, emerging technology will lead a helping hand as advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have contributed to positive results to improve driver safety and reduce road accidents. An essential component of emerging technology is Computer Vision which deploys the practical implementation of Deep Learning, to reduce manual road accidents. Using computer vision, the human mind can put in place driver training and coaching, create incentives for drivers to handle their vehicles in a safe and effective manner and accurately measure driving performance.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), has the potential to make driving safer, by utilising methods that can be used to learn from the various driving conditions on Indian roads, offering challenging opportunities in the scope of automated systems with an aim to aid drivers. AI technologies can recognise obstacles, multiple objects and hazards from a safe distance and alert the driver. AI technologies are built into Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) applications that work on camera and other sensor data to alert the drivers by sensing hazardous conditions on the road. Additional applications like Driver Monitoring Systems constantly monitor the driver for drowsiness, and fatigue conditions. Smart Fleet telematics systems combine multiple vehicle parameters with road conditions to analyse the driving behaviour of fleet drivers.
Of late, there has been a lot of interest around autonomous driving, and significant investments have been announced by governments and companies in this domain. But we are several years away from fully autonomous drives and currently, there is a need to invest in technologies that will improve road safety. Much of the learning from the area of autonomous driving can be transferred in a bid to improve manned vehicle experiences. Vehicles with high-definition cameras and on-board sensors are currently in use to capture the driving environment around the driver and the vehicle. This information is analysed real-time with Deep Learning algorithms and powerful integrated processors. Technology has enabled to detect incidents of concern or unsafe events to be analysed and sent to the fleet along with the relevant video and sensor information including intelligent detection of events such as lane departure, traffic light violation, sign violations, relative speeding and tailgating alongside traditional inertial detections of hard acceleration, hard turns and hard braking.
Real-time tracking solutions help fleet managers to closely keep an eye on their vehicles and react in real-time to reduce the possibility of risky driving becoming a life threatening event. These solutions additionally provide metrics to manage and measure every driver’s performance on the road, providing important data to point out good drivers as well.
These traffic management solutions can help a company’s bottom line as well by closely monitoring fleet drivers and assisting them to improve their skills thereby making the drive safer and cutting down costs related to victim compensation costs, property damage, theft, loss of productivity and legal and criminal issues. The most important of them is protecting the company’s image and goodwill by avoiding and minimising catastrophic events on the road.
Contribution of the Indian Geography
Hand in hand with the government agencies, apps such as the MTPapp which was recently launched by the Mumbai Police aims to create more alert citizens by empowering Mumbaikars to get offenders and rule violators booked. Bengaluru, dubious for potholes becoming a nightmare for commuters leading to 50% of the fatalities on the road, has undertaken a drive aptly named as, Report a pothole, get it fixed immediately urging citizens to report potholes online by calling the control room or via the WhatsApp.
India is a developing economy where fleets have been expanding rapidly, for cargo, personal transportation (cabs) and logistics. This has led companies across the board to invest high into automation to help streamline costs, and reduce the fatalities on the road. The time is good that fleet management companies deploy the emerging technologies to improve their outcomes in this critical area where human safety is at risk.