Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pedestrian killed in Woodland Hills

A yet-unidentified pedestrian was killed by the suspect in a police pursuit while crossing Don Pio Drive near Topanga Canyon Boulevard last night, as described in this LA Daily News article. My first thought was that this was simply one of those sad, haphazard incidents that are impossible to prevent, but then I wondered: could there be a way to design our roads or vehicles to keep crashes like this from happening?

Turns out we already have the technology to do this. For example, the newest vehicles equipped with GM's OnStar system feature the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown option. The system gives police officers the ability to bring vehicles to a stop remotely (GPS is used to pinpoint the vehicle location), thus facilitating the capture of theives--and potentially preventing car chases like the one yesterday in Woodland Hills.

Now we just have to convince the public to turn the steering wheel over to Big Brother in an emergency...


  1. With GPS and engine control, you could also enforce speed limits remotely. Cars traveling on a particular street could be limited to no more than 25 mph, and on the highway big rigs would not be able to go over 55 mph.

    Even without control of the engine, it would be possible to mail out tickets for clear violations of speed limits based on average speed. Already some toll roads have this feature. Of course, that would not prevent this sort of accident.

  2. Several countries are in the process of testing out Intelligent Speed Adaptation (Transport for London outfitted one of its buses with the technology last May I think this is a great technology that could really improve roadway safety for pedestrians (and other road users), but I think it will be a big challenge to convince the general public to embrace it. "Selling" ISA as a benefit (as GM does) might be one way to get people on board.