If you drive a vehicle, the odds are extremely good that you've been involved in at least one auto accident. Fortunately, modern cars a far safer than they used to be, but is it possible to eliminate crashes completely? That seems all but impossible, but Mercedes-Benz wants to try.
That attempt has an official name with the German automaker: Vision Zero. In short, Mercedes wants to combine advanced driver-assist systems with infrastructure changes and better awareness of potentially dangerous environments. By 2030, Mercedes hopes to cut accidents with fatalities or serious injuries involving its vehicles by half, compared to 2020 stats. For 2050, the company wants no accidents at all.
Gallery: Mercedes-Benz Vision Zero Initiative
How exactly does Mercedes intend to do this? Building vehicles with advanced autonomous systems is part of that answer. Modern Mercedes vehicles already offer 40 various active driver assist systems that can help prevent accidents or minimize injury should a collision be unavoidable. Autonomous emergency braking and steering assist are arguably the best known of such systems, but other features like Pre-Safe Sound – launched in 2016 – emit certain tones milliseconds before an impact that can reduce the possibility of hearing loss from a loud crash.
Building a safer car is all well and good, but how can Mercedes control what other drivers are doing on the road? That will always be an uncontrolled variable in the equation, but changes to traffic infrastructure are another part of the plan. That requires physical changes, though exactly when and how those changes will happen isn't currently known. However, Mercedes does highlight the research it's done on over 5,000 real-world accidents over the course of 50 years to help affect change. Identifying higher-risk locations through the Mercedes-Benz Road Safety Dashboard can further alert drivers to be extra aware when entering certain areas.
“At Mercedes-Benz, we are pursuing our vision of accident-free driving. In other words: no more accidents involving a Mercedes vehicle," said Paul Dick, head of vehicle safety at Mercedes-Benz Group AG. "We are continuing to work toward this goal at full speed. Highly automated and autonomous driving will be a decisive contributor to its success. After all, vehicle safety has always been at the core of the Mercedes-Benz brand – and we want to continue to expand this claim in the future."