CarVi, an interior camera and smartphone app updates older vehicles' safety features—but will the device be too distracting to drivers?
With concerns about distracted driving on the rise these days, drivers everywhere are being encouraged to put down their phones and concentrate on driving. In fact, the World Health Organization says drivers who use a mobile phone while driving are about four times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle crash than a driver who does not use a phone while driving.
Your personal driving assistant
A new vehicle safety sensor on the market, the CarVi, couples an app with a hockey puck-size camera that sits behind your rear view mirror and gives drivers real-time feedback on their driving. The sensor is designed to give older model vehicles more modern safety features for detecting collisions, determining safe lane changes or lowering speed to avoid tailgating.
The CarVi is built around increasing driver safety by allowing drivers to respond instantly to feedback provided by the device. CarVi records your drive and provides an instant analysis so you can adjust your speed, lane changes and distance from vehicles in front of you.
At the end of your trip, the device scores your driving technique, paying particular attention to things like hard braking and hard acceleration, which are known gas guzzlers. Such digital nagging is no doubt poised to replace backseat drivers everywhere as they watch in silence as the real drive unfolds.
This infographic from CarVi shows some interesting statistics about driver safety. Photo: CarVi
Will the CarVi help or hurt road safety?
There is no doubt that driving more efficiently with real-time feedback from a device like the CarVi may help drivers save money at the pumps, lower their greenhouse gas emissions and help them avoid potentially dangerous driving habits. However, the device may add one more potential distraction in front of drivers at a time when government agencies are encouraging fewer—not more—distractions.
Agencies like the World Health Organization claim distracted driving is on the rise and a cause for concern worldwide.
“There are many types of distractions that can lead to impaired driving, but recently there has been a marked increase around the world in the use of mobile phones by drivers that is becoming a growing concern for road safety,” says the WHO on its website.
“The distraction caused by mobile phones can impair driving performance in a number of ways, e.g. longer reaction times (notably braking reaction time, but also reaction to traffic signals), impaired ability to keep in the correct lane, and shorter following distances.”
Consider these numbers
- Nearly 1.3 million people worldwide (37,000 Americans) die in road crashes each year, with an average 3,287 deaths a day
- An additional 20-50 million are either injured or disabled
- Road crashes cost USD $518 billion globally, costing individual countries from 1-2% of their annual GDP
- Road crashes cost the U.S. $230.6 billion per year, or an average of $820 per person
The makers of CarVi are to be commended for designing a disruptive technology that is designed to increase driver safety. At its core, the CarVi will equip older vehicles with more modern safety features and will hopefully encourage safer driving habits, which can only be regarded as positive for drivers everywhere. So kudos to CarVi, especially if the device is used to teach teenage drivers (among the highest fatalities in road crashes) safer driving habits, using a device they already love.
The key is to put safety first without getting caught up in the glamor factor of having a shiny new gadget in the “cockpit” of your vehicle. At $499 a pop, the CarVi might be a bit pricy for some drivers, or maybe not. What price for safety?
In case this sensor is a bit too high-tech for you, remember, you can always adopt these five low-tech fuel-efficient driving habits that will also help increase your safety on the road.
- Accelerate gently
- Maintain a steady speed
- Anticipate traffic
- Coast to decelerate
- Avoid high speeds
You could save hundreds of dollars at the pumps, avoid speeding tickets, repairs, insurance hikes and most of all, injury or loss of life.
The CarVi is expected to hit the market in August 2015.
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