updated 10/19/2010 1:17:22 PM ET 2010-10-19T17:17:22

We’re going to take a look at accidents on the highway. And technology that could prevent them. Today, on Engineering Works! Listen to the podcast.

Cars and trucks have been getting safer for years. Seat belts. Airbags. Safety cages. Crumple zones. All kinds of technology that helps us survive a car crash. It works pretty well, but not well enough. More than 40,000 of us still die every year in vehicle accidents.

Now, automotive engineers and safety experts are looking in a different direction to keep us safe on the highway. How about simply avoiding the crash? That’s even safer than trying to make sure we don’t get hurt too badly.

Using technology to prevent highway accidents is an idea that’s catching on with engineers around the world. Sweden, Germany, Japan. And the United States, of course.

One idea is the smart highway. The smart highway would combine sensors at street or highway intersections with computer processors, GPS units and radio receivers in each car. The sensors would sort of watch the traffic and send the information to cars on streets nearby.

If the sensors saw an accident getting ready to happen, like a car getting ready to run a red light, they would send the information to cars that might get involved. The cars’ onboard systems could sound an alarm for drivers. Or even stomp on the brakes in real emergencies.

There’s no emergency here, so we’re going to shut it down and go home. See you next time.

EngineeringWorks! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU-FM in College Station.

© 2012 Discovery Channel


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