Vancouver taxis to test crash-avoidance technologies
By Steve Mertl for MSN Autos
About 200 Metro Vancouver taxis are slated to become guinea pigs later this year, testing crash-avoidance technologies as well as a system that monitors driver behaviour.
The $200,000 test, expect to run to the end of next year, is being underwritten by the Insurance Corp. of B.C. (ICBC), the government-owned auto insurer.
The cabs will be outfitted with data-collection devices that keep track of a driver’s behaviour behind the wheel (likely similar to black boxes found on may commercial vehicles). Half of the test taxis will also be equipped with crash-avoidance systems to alert drivers of a potential crash. Collision rates will be compared against that of a control group of taxis without the gear.
“The technology has been available for a few years but there aren’t a lot of real-world studies out there so we want to test it out here,” ICBC road-safety manager Sonny Senghera told the Vancouver Sun.
ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman told Passing Lane the proposed test program is in its early stages, with a request for proposals posted for prospective bidders to supply the technology.
“Specifically, forward crash avoidance technology warns of potential frontal impacts with vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and lane deviations,” Grossman said via email. “Vehicle operation data monitors hard acceleration or braking, excessive speed and aggressive turning.
“Taxis are great group for this study as they are on the road most hours of the day and log a lot of miles in complex environments. Their participation could give us a lot of data in a short period of time.”
The Vancouver Taxi Association is endorsing the testing program. Spokeswoman Carolyn Bauer told Global TV that drivers are subject to many distractions and the monitoring technology will will help pinpoint problems that need correction. Grossman said the industry supports the program as a way of reducing crashes, maintenance and fuel costs.
Beyond the Big Brother-ish aspect of the monitoring system, the ICBC test program could have implications for other Canadian drivers.
Studies helped convince federal regulators that anti-lock brakes, traction control and most recently stability control were effective enough at reducing deaths and injuries to become mandatory equipment on all automobiles.