Can This 24-Year-Old's Startup Prevent 86 Percent of Traffic Accidents? Coming soon: "safe driving system" technology to keep track of your business's employee-drivers, as well as that teen in the family car.
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Though convenient, automotive transportation can be deadly. Over 35,000 people lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2015 (the last full year available), and more than 30,000 fatalities occur annually.
Related: Is America Too 'Safe' for Innovation? Or Will Driverless Cars Ever Have Their Day?
Prevention is is an area where businesses are active -- with some working to create autonomous vehicles that eliminate human error altogether, and other, perhaps more practical, startups, striving to assist business owners, teens and other drivers to curb their driving mistakes, some of them fatal.
Certainly, autonomous cars are nice, in theory, but a number of logistical and legal hurdles are preventing them from becoming a practical reality. Nor is their widespread adoption likely any time soon.
But, what if a new app and technology could prevent up to 86 percent of traffic accidents altogether?
Innovative Technology for Transportation (ITFT) is a North Carolina-based company, currently in its crowdfunding stage, which has designed a Safe Driving System, (SDS) whose up-and-coming app and technology is designed to prevent speeding and reckless driving.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has calculated that 94 percent of all traffic accidents are attributable to human error, so the Safe Driving System is designed to reduce those errors through controls and notifications that limit driver behavior.
Compatible with any car manufactured since 1996, the Safe Driving System will be targeted primarily toward teenagers (and their reasonably worried parents). When the SDS is installed, parents will receive alerts whenever their teens drive over a designated speed threshold and when they make it to their destinations safely (or, less happily, when an accident has occurred).
Related: Driverless Cars Won't Make Roadways Perfectly Safe
The technology, however, also applies to businesses: It will be available to employers to keep track of their company vehicles and employee-drivers.
Plus, individuals can use the SDS to gain a better awareness of their personal driving habits and to block distracting apps on their mobile devices (while they retain access to necessary phone and navigation functions).
ITFT is further working on a "panic button," designed for integration with ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. If pressed, the panic button will simultaneously alert local authorities and force the vehicle to come to a stop, while recording video and audio of the scene. Then, the door will automatically unlock, allowing the passenger to exit safely. The button will be available for both drivers and passengers.
ITFT isn't the first company developing technology designed to help drivers and prevent traffic accidents, but it is one of the only solutions capable of issuing both speed and reckless driving alerts. Zubie, for example, was designed as a GPS tracker for teenage drivers, but can't alert parents when their teenagers are going over the speed limit.
Instead, its technology is designed to send alerts when the car goes over a manually set speed. Hum, by Verizon, works similarly.
Almost every solution now on the market will come with a monthly or yearly fee, usually in the neighborhood of $10 per month.
The founder of ITFT, Matthew Godley, has said he was inspired to create the system after experiencing the deaths of community members in traffic accidents. Still relatively young, Godley, now 24, has assembled a team of engineers, innovators and advisors to help make his vision a reality.
Currently, ITFT is listed on Start Engine, a crowdfunding website designed to help entrepreneurs meet their fundraising goals with the help of the general public. Until the offering deadline of April 2, 2017, investors can purchase up to 100,000 series B non-voting common shares of the company at a price of $10 per share.
The future of accident prevention
Chances are, the SDS is just the beginning of a new wave of technology aimed to help control traffic accidents in this country. Some companies are targeting the improvement of vehicles, with higher safety standards, automated elements, and in some cases, full autonomy. However, the other side of the equation is the driver: Until autonomous cars become reality, controlling driver behavior is the best tool available for limiting traffic accidents.
Related: This Startup Aims to Make Sure Driverless Cars Don't Run You OverThe more we learn about our own driving habits and the driving habits of our loved ones, the fewer risks we'll face in our daily commutes and adventures. And while our dashboards currently provide us with baseline information to guide our operations, new technology like the SDS will help us alter our behaviors and motivate us to drive more responsibly.