From preventing texting and driving simultaneously to training autonomous vehicles, these startups are helping reduce the threat of accidents one issue at a time.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 1.3 million people die in road accidents each year, and between 20-50 million people suffer from non-fatal injuries as a result of accidents. To prevent the loss of life and the destruction of property associated with accidents, many startups have stepped up and created technologies to make roads safer.
Whether you are a concerned citizen or an entrepreneur looking for inspiration for your next big startup project, here is a list of five startups working in the road safety space and the kinds of services they provide.
Motorcycles are a particularly dangerous vehicle to be riding out on the streets. According to the American non-profit National Safety Council, motorcyclists account for 14% of all traffic fatalities in the country. One entrepreneur—Forcite co-Founder Alfred Boyadgis—witnessed the vulnerability of being a motorcyclist by being involved in a bike accident himself. So, he decided to create a technology that could warn motorcyclists of imminent danger, and that’s where the idea of Forcite came in. Forcite is an Australian startup founded in 2014 that has created a helmet that comes integrated with a rider alert system, an LED display as well as a high-quality audio system to provide riders with navigation and alert them of any hazards they might encounter. The company began selling these tech-enabled helmets in Australia in 2020 and has since been working on expanding its reach to the United Kingdom and Europe as of the fourth quarter of 2022.
Microtraffic is a Canada-based startup that provides microscopic data traffic data to road safety engineers. The company uses artificial intelligence (AI) to give road safety engineers insight into spots that experience not just full-blown accidents but also near-misses. To do so, it takes video footage from traffic management centers or “specially mounted” cameras and runs it frame by frame through an AI to find unsafe situations. The idea behind providing engineers with this information is simple: prove that a problem exists so that money can be allocated to fix it. The company has recently joined hands with another traffic technology company, the Austrian startup Swarcos, to incorporate near-miss data into Swarco’s MyCity urban mobility management suite.
Zendrive is a U.S.-based startup founded in 2013 that intends to make driving safer by using mobile sensors to track actions like acceleration, braking, swerving and phone use. Once it has this data, it gives the user a “driver score” as well as actionable advice on what they need to do to be safer on the road. All you need to do to access Zendrive’s services is have a smartphone. This makes it a cheap and effective solution for not just individual drivers but also for the freight industry. As of 2022, the company has raised US$57 million in funding and has also expanded into a commercial insurance company, Fairmatic, that leverages a user’s driving ability to get them 10-20% cheaper insurance than what they would typically get. The prices of the insurance get adjusted monthly based on how responsibly a user drives.
According to a survey conducted by the phone trading company Sell Cell, 46% of people spend five to six hours a day on their smartphones. While smartphone addiction in itself is an acute problem, what makes it particularly alarming is that a lot of people text while driving, thereby increasing the chances of traffic accidents. Studies have shown that it has the same effect on a person’s driving ability as having consumed four beers.
To address this problem, Israel-based startup SaverOne created an application that disables certain applications on the phone once it is near the driver’s seat of a car. CEO Ori Gilboa says that the app is able to distinguish the phone signals of those who are in the driver’s seat and those in the passenger seat. As of this year, the company has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Dutch vehicle manufacturer Iveco to integrate their technology into Iveco’s trucks.
We have previously discussed the issues associated with self-driving cars, and while there is a lot to be worried about with this new technology, its tendency to cause accidents requires the utmost attention. With this in mind, the U.K.-based startup Latent Logic used a technique called “Intimation Learning” to teach machines how to act by showing them how humans perform the same actions. To do so, the company creates simulations of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians that display typical human behaviors (both the good and the bad) to test the safety of autonomous vehicles before they ever hit the road. In 2019, Latent Logic was acquired by Google’s self-driving car project Waymo to help improve its capabilities of behavior prediction.
Worldwide car sales have grown to 65.4 million as of 2022. As the number of cars on the road increases, the need for road safety measures also grows. It is estimated that, by 2026, the world road safety market will be worth US$5.8 billion. Hopefully, we will see more unique ideas (like the ones we have listed above) emerge in this sector so that we can make our daily commute without worrying about the threat of an accident.
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