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  • We're learning more tonight

  • about a deadly car crash at speeds

  • alleged to be over 100 miles per hour.

  • A man is dead after being hit by a car in Midtown.

  • It's just tragic.

  • The crash happened on the 10 Freeway in Fontana

  • killing four people.

  • Investigators tell us there is a possibility

  • that this was the result of a DUI.

  • Eye witnesses say it appeared the driver didn't realize

  • he had struck the boy and his mother until it was too late.

  • These are only a few of the estimated 38,800 deaths

  • on American streets in 2019.

  • And possibly even more tragically,

  • we actually have the technology

  • to prevent many of those deaths.

  • We're just not using it.

  • This is David Zipper.

  • He's a visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School

  • and first wrote about this technology for CityLab.

  • What is the risk for people in the United States

  • for car fatalities?

  • What has been the trend there?

  • Well, it's not been good.

  • In the last decade in America,

  • overall road and street fatalities

  • have been relatively flat,

  • but that masks some big differences.

  • If you're inside of an automobile,

  • it's actually gotten safer.

  • Fatalities have gone down over the last decade

  • but they've spiked for pedestrians and for cyclists,

  • between 30% and 45% over the last decade.

  • And meanwhile, if you compare the United States

  • to other OECD countries, other Western countries

  • especially in Europe, we're doing much worse.

  • In Helsinki, Finland last year

  • there were literally zero deaths.

  • And those risks are not spread out evenly.

  • In fact, those most likely to be killed

  • as a cyclist or a pedestrian, they tend to be minorities,

  • they tend to be elderly, they often are low income.

  • So, this is actually an equity issue as much as a safety one.

  • Many city governments have worked hard

  • to address these issues, adopting safer street initiatives

  • around improving crosswalks and lowering speed limits.

  • But those measures can only go so far.

  • The reality is when two tons of glass, metal and plastic

  • hit 150 pounds of flesh and bone,

  • it's the human who's going to lose every single time.

  • This is another David, David Friedman,

  • and he's the Vice President for Advocacy

  • at Consumer Reports.

  • You know, one of the things we just did recently

  • was we put out a report that pointed out

  • that we could actually

  • cut the roadway fatalities in half

  • with technologies that are already out there today.

  • Well, let's talk about speed.

  • In a big country like the United States,

  • speed sells, people like it,

  • and car companies play off of those sorts of ideas

  • that an automobile lets you go quickly and independently.

  • I'm reminded of an advertisement for the Dodge Charger

  • that I saw myself

  • when I was watching the Super Bowl a few years ago.

  • It's a wonderful thing, this game.

  • It really plays on these ideas of being American.

  • To bring an entire nation together.

  • And being loyal.

  • Glorious moment in time.

  • We are thankful,

  • mainly because the streets

  • are just empty as hell right now.

  • It was really striking to me.

  • And I think it is very revealing

  • about how automobiles sell this concept of speed,

  • urban speed in particular, through their products.

  • I mean, when you sort of look back at history,

  • the automobile really showed up in American cities.

  • It changed the speed of the street.

  • That's Seleta Reynolds.

  • All right, let's do it.

  • She's the General Manager

  • for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation

  • and as she explains, lowering the speed of vehicles

  • can dramatically shift fatality rates.

  • If you are hit by a car

  • that is traveling 20 miles an hour or slower,

  • you have a 80% to 90% chance of surviving that crash

  • if you're on foot.

  • Once that car is going 40 miles an hour,

  • your chance of surviving that crash

  • plummets down to about 20%.

  • Cities throughout the United States

  • have been really trying to keep

  • especially vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists safe

  • by reducing speed limits

  • or encouraging drivers to go slower.

  • The problem is that they can violate that speed limit.

  • However, there is a technological solution,

  • a simple device called a speed governor or a speed limiter.

  • The speed governors have been around

  • for literally over a century.

  • Today, you can have a speed governor that is pretty simple,

  • saying the vehicle can never go above 40 miles an hour,

  • or you can have a quote unquote smart speed governor

  • that would adjust to the surrounding speed limit.

  • Are there any laws in the books

  • or is there any government action

  • to sort of put these in cars?

  • Well, no.

  • The United States, there's really been no effort

  • to require or even encourage speed limiters,

  • speed governors to be installed on personal vehicles.

  • In Europe, regulators have been more aggressive.

  • All new vehicles bought and sold in the European Union

  • from the year 2022 will have to be fitted

  • with so-called intelligent speed assistance technology.

  • The speed governors there are gonna be smart

  • in that they will use data

  • from a variety of different sources

  • to adjust based on what the surrounding speed limit is.

  • But, and this may end up being a big but,

  • a driver will be able to overcome the limit

  • by keeping a foot pressed down on the accelerator.

  • That may be helpful for a driver who wants to, say,

  • get around a truck on the highway,

  • but it does open questions about just how much protection

  • will be afforded to pedestrians and cyclists

  • from a truly reckless driver.

  • But there are technologies out there

  • that can help prevent some of the most dangerous drivers

  • from ever even taking the wheel.

  • A woman suspected of driving under the influence

  • is dead this morning after driving.

  • Many roadway fatalities occur

  • within a quarter mile of a pub, bar, drinking establishment,

  • which means either the driver or the pedestrian,

  • or sometimes both have been impaired.

  • This is Greg Winfree,

  • the director of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute

  • and he points to one maybe obvious technology,

  • the breathalyzer.

  • Breathalyzers are typically used to ensure compliance

  • from folks that have been convicted

  • of a drunk driving offense.

  • You know, so there's stigma.

  • Would I want to voluntarily put in my vehicle

  • a device that to a passer-by

  • might say this guy is a DUI guy?

  • The auto industry with some regulators

  • has been developing some new technologies

  • in a program called DADSS, or D-A-D-S-S

  • that would actually look at a driver's breath

  • or their touch on the steering wheel

  • to be able to passively determine

  • if there's alcohol in their system.

  • And then frankly they wouldn't be able

  • to operate the vehicle.

  • That technology is still a few years away.

  • But there's other types of technology being developed

  • as well that have a similar goal.

  • These technologies fall into what are known

  • as driver monitoring systems

  • and they can detect more than just drunk drivers.

  • Some of them can keep an eye on your eyes

  • and figure out whether or not

  • you've got your eyes on the road

  • and/or whether or not you're doing proper scanning,

  • so that it knows that you're consciously engaged

  • in the driving task.

  • So these sorts of driver monitoring systems

  • are still quite rare

  • and they're really put only onto luxury vehicles.

  • So the vast majority of vehicles sold today

  • and for the foreseeable future aren't going to have them.

  • Yeah, you know, the only exposure I've ever had

  • to this kind of technology is there's these Subaru ads

  • right now, where parents are kind of worried

  • about their phone-addicted teens out driving

  • and getting into these sort of horrific accidents.

  • Parents have a way of imagining the worst.

  • Automakers are trying to differentiate themselves

  • with the quality of their safety technology.

  • There's another one that Honda did a couple of years ago

  • about a guy named Mark.

  • Mark is the best husband and father you could ask for.

  • Who is praised by lots of people.

  • Great guy, best man at my wedding.

  • Just got to keep him off the dance floor.

  • And then it shows Mark crossing a street

  • and he's not really paying attention

  • and he's almost hit by a Honda,

  • but the Honda uses its pedestrian detection system

  • to spot him and the driver stops in time.

  • Pedestrian detection systems are one version

  • of, sort of like a broad category of safety technologies

  • known as advanced driver assistance systems or ADAS

  • Engaging green light.

  • Oh my God.

  • Automatic emergency braking.

  • Smart cruise control or adaptive cruise control.

  • Lane assist.

  • All of those are ADAS systems.

  • Those are all important safety features

  • when you're thinking about cars

  • operating in higher speed, simpler environments

  • but they are almost useless

  • when you're talking about vehicles

  • that are operating in complicated urban environments.

  • AAA did a study recently showing

  • that they're highly suspect

  • when detecting a pedestrian at night,

  • or when the vehicle is making a right-hand turn.

  • They do a really poor job

  • even detecting adult pedestrians.

  • Only detecting adult pedestrians about 60% of the time

  • and then when it comes to smaller pedestrians and children,

  • they hardly detected them at all.

  • In another study, AAA also found

  • that other ADAS technology like lane assist

  • and adaptive cruise control were simply unreliable.

  • Over 4,000 miles of driving,

  • researchers encountered an issue about every eight miles.

  • And I assume this technology,

  • along with any other technology,

  • it'll only get better over time.

  • But I'm curious with this technology already out there

  • who's really pressuring these car companies

  • to improve it, to make it better?

  • As of now, really no one.

  • This is all voluntary work

  • that's being done by the automakers.

  • Some of them really do invest a lot of money

  • and effort in it, some don't, but it's really up to them.

  • The shoulder belt and lap belt are now combined

  • so that one buckle secures both belts.

  • The reason we have seatbelts,

  • the reason we have antilock brakes

  • is because it was mandated by the government.

  • Historically however, government action around safety

  • often faces backlash, both by automakers and drivers.

  • It's always been a struggle

  • to get safety technology into automobiles.

  • It took decades to make airbags,

  • which are commonplace today, be mandatory.

  • In 1974, the federal government tried to impose

  • what's called a safety belt interlock.

  • So you couldn't turn on your car

  • if you weren't wearing a safety belt

  • and within a year, auto interests and drivers were so irate

  • that they forced Congress to backpedal.

  • So there's a long history of challenges made,

  • sometimes from drivers,

  • oftentimes from auto companies themselves.

  • Multiple carmakers and the automaker lobbying group

  • Alliance for Automotive Innovation

  • declined to comment for this story.

  • The car is so entangled