According to a World Health Organization (WHO) survey, 1.24 million people worldwide die in traffic accidents each year, making them the eighth leading cause of death. While the number of deaths due to traffic accidents has been decreasing slightly in Japan, North America and Europe, it has been steadily increasing in emerging nations where traffic safety education and transportation infrastructure have not kept up with increases in the number of cars on the road. On a global scale, traffic fatalities continue to increase steadily and are expected to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030 unless countermeasures are implemented. To achieve Toyota's ultimate goal of completely eliminating traffic casualties developing safe vehicles is of course important, but it is also essential to educate drivers and pedestrians regarding traffic safety and to create a safe traffic environment. Toward achieving a safe mobility society, Toyota believes it is important to promote an Integrated Three Part Initiative, involving people, vehicles, and the traffic environment, as well as to pursue "real-world safety" by learning from accidents and incorporating that knowledge into vehicle development. Toyota has also defined its Integrated Safety Management Concept as the basic philosophy behind technologies for achieving the elimination of traffic casualties and is moving forward with developing such technologies.
Toyota's approach is to improve the safety level through development of various safety systems that work together in a car rather than thinking of each separately. In the pursuit of optimum driving support, the scope of driver support is widened from the traditional focus on the moments immediately before and after an accident, to cover "every stage of the driving experience" from parking, to normal operation, the pre and post-crash time-frame, and post-accident rescue.
In Japan, rear-end collisions account for approximately 30 percent of all accidents, followed by accidents at intersections, such as corner-to-corner collisions. More recently, accidents in parking lots caused by drivers, especially elderly drivers, who mistake the accelerator for the brake pedal have also become a major social issue. With the goal of creating vehicles that are safe for everyone, Toyota is developing safety technologies that help minimize damage even when accidents occur.
To reduce the number of rear-end collisions requires technologies that help reduce damage or avoid the collision all together by enabling the driver to sense a potential collision and be prepared. Before such systems and technologies can be developed, it is necessary to investigate the actual conditions surrounding rear-end collisions. Based on the pursuit of real-world safety, Toyota has used a driving simulator to investigate driver behaviors during rear-end collisions. The results showed that approximately 90 percent of drivers were able to apply the brakes in time if warned prior to a potential rear-end collision. Based on this result, Toyota developed a system that addressed both those drivers who were able to apply the brakes and those who were not. This new system, which uses powerful brake assist and an automatic brake to help drivers avoid rear-end collisions, was developed by adding functional enhancements to the Pre-collision System.
Working with test results showing that approximately 90 percent of drivers were able to apply the brakes in time, Toyota is pursing real-world safety. Toyota's Pre-collision System (PCS), based on the belief that the driver must be fully engaged, assists drivers who are able to apply the brakes upon hearing an alarm by greatly increasing the braking force in the collision-avoidance maneuver, but also uses an automatic brake to avoid the collision if the driver fails to apply the brakes. If there is a risk of a rear-end collision with the preceding car, the newly developed millimeter wave radar quickly detects the risk and warns the driver with both a buzzer and display, prompting the driver to apply the brakes. When the driver applies the brakes, the PCS enables deceleration of up to 60 km/h by greatly increasing the braking force. If the driver fails to apply the brakes, PCS activates the automatic brake to help avoid a rear-end collision by automatically decelerating the vehicle at a rate of up to 30 km/h. Toyota believes that deceleration of 60 km/h will help prevent at least 90 percent of rear-end collisions. In addition to these safety technologies that assist drivers, Toyota is also developing technologies for a PCS with pedestrian detection and collision avoidance support functions.
Each year, the approximately 7,000 collisions (in Japan) caused by pedal misapplication result in a higher death rate than collisions caused by other driver errors. In most cases, these collisions are caused by elderly drivers, panicked drivers, or drivers operating unfamiliar vehicles. Because it is difficult for the driver to take a corrective step once pedal misapplication has occurred, it is important for the vehicle itself to provide assistance. Toyota is developing a system that will help reduce both collision impact and damage even if the vehicle suddenly starts off due to driver error.
This system helps reduce the impact and damage caused by collision with an obstacle, when the driver presses the wrong pedal or excessively steps on the accelerator pedal. When the clearance sonar detects an obstacle the vehicle is at risk of colliding with, such as a wall, when starting off in a parking garage or other similar environment, the system warns the driver with a buzzer and display, reduces engine or motor output depending on the situation and automatically applies the brakes.
This system prevents sudden starts caused by erroneous shifting of the vehicle's shift lever when the accelerator pedal is applied. If other abnormal gear shifting is detected, a warning is displayed and engine or motor output is reduced to limit sudden starts or acceleration.
Traffic accident statistics show that accidents at intersections (corner-to-corner collisions and collisions during right/left turns) rank second following rear-end collisions. Because corner-to-corner collisions at intersections with poor visibility are difficult to prevent with safety equipment installed in cars alone, it is hoped that ITS technologies will help reduce this type of accident.
Vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems that support safe driving aim to reduce the number of traffic accidents by notifying drivers of non-visible information and traffic signal information through the continuous exchange of road-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-vehicle and pedestrian-to-vehicle information. For example, even at an intersection with poor visibility where oncoming vehicles cannot be seen, direct communication between vehicles enables drivers to obtain information about the other vehicle. Alerting the driver of each vehicle to an approaching oncoming vehicle promotes safe driving. In addition to developing the technologies needed, Toyota is taking various steps toward the commercialization of vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems that support safe driving in collaboration with the government, including building the basic infrastructure, such as standardizing the communication method, and conducting public-road verification tests.
In order to repeatedly conduct ITS testing and evaluation, that can be difficult to perform on public roads with changing road environments Toyota built a new test site, the ITS Proving Ground, in April 2012. Urban intersections found in Japan were faithfully replicated at the 3.5 hectare site inside the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center, and infrared beacons, 760-MHz communication equipment, and vehicle/pedestrian detection sensors were installed. With the start of full-scale operations at the ITS Proving Ground, Toyota will accelerate its research and development of safe driving support systems that seek to prevent accidents involving pedestrians and other vehicles in urban areas and at intersections.
The Toyota Safety Education Center "mobilitas" holds a safe driving program called Toyota Driver Communication, targeting the general public, corporations, and other organizations. Participants learn how to use safety equipment and safely experience how vehicles behave when driven beyond their limits. "mobilitas" also holds hands-on traffic safety events together with local governments, corporations, and dealers. Participants engage in various activities that raise their level of safety awareness, such as the simulated experience of walking under the influence of alcohol and the benefits of using reflective materials.
Toyota Driver Communication Cumulative total number of participants: