The roads just got a little safer for bicyclists — as long as everyone drives a Volvo.
The Swedish car company, which wants to build cars that do not crash, has teamed with helmet manufacturer POC in an attempt to solve the problem of car-bike collisions. Their solution? Wearable technology that alerts both motorist and cyclist when a collision is imminent.
Volvo, POC and smartphone manufacturer Ericsson will unveil the safety system at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month.
Hundreds of cyclists die each year in an estimated 50,000 accidents involving cars in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Most safety efforts focus on education or modifications to roadways to make room for bicycles, but the Swedish companies want to step out front with a safety system that connects both types of road users through the cloud.
Using almost any GPS-tracking smartphone cycling app, like Strava, an approaching cyclist’s position is shared with a Volvo driver. The motorist will be alerted through a heads-up display if a cyclist is in a blind spot, behind a bend or another vehicle, or during periods of low visibility.
The cyclist will know about the car thanks to a red alert light mounted to his or her POC bike helmet, which will also vibrate.
“In 2013, Volvo was the first car manufacturer to introduce the Cyclist Detection System with fully automatic emergency braking in city traffic,” Klas Bendrik, a Volvo vice president, said in a statement. “And now with this innovative new technology, we are getting ever closer to eliminating the remaining blind spots between cars and cyclists forever.”
For more immediate road safety, the concerned cyclist may just want to move to Sweden, where safety seems to be ingrained in the culture.
Before this partnership, a company called Horving developed a wearable air bag collar that quickly inflates and envelopes the head on impact.
The Economist earlier this year declared Sweden’s roads to be the world’s safest in large part because of a Vision Zero plan adopted by the Swedish parliament in the 1990s that made safety a priority in road construction.
Cars and bikes are mostly separated by travel zones and barriers. Overall traffic deaths in Sweden have dropped 50 percent since 2009 and cities in Utah, Minnesota, Washington and New York are looking to Sweden’s Vision Zero initiatives to reduce accidents.
Good news if you pedal but can’t afford the move to Sweden.