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Road deaths in the European Union hardly declined in 2018. That’s despite the development of new auto technology such as adaptive cruise control (ACC). However, autonomous driving is widely expected to have a major impact on the number of road accidents in the future.

That’s the opinion of Dr. Walter Eichendorf, the President of the German Road Safety Council (DVR) which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year.

We managed to get an interview with him at the annual meeting of the Association of Motor Journalists in the city of Friedrichshafen in Southern Germany. Eichendorf told us what has been achieved by the Council since it was founded in 1969.

“If you look back fifty years to the day when the German Road Safety Council was founded you see that the death toll was more than 21,000 people being killed on the roads. Now we are down to a little bit more than 3,000 within these fifty years. And I do believe that a lot of this success has been achieved due to the German Road Safety Council.”

One of its recent successes has been the launch and roll-out of a road safety app that was specifically designed for people migrating to Germany.

“It has been translated into a lot of languages. I think right now we are eleven languages. And it’s being used extensively. I do think it really helps people coming from other countries and other cultures into Germany,” says Eichendorf.

Volvo Cars recently announced that it will limit the top speed on all its cars to 180 kph from 2020. Eichendorf believes such initiatives and the wide scale adoption of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) will cut the number of deaths on the road significantly.

“The most successful system is the ACC (adaptive cruise control) – meaning that speed is regulated automatically using as distance radar and that the brake is being applied automatically using an emergency braking system. That combination called ACC is extremely successful. It can basically prevent all accident from cars crashing into other cars.”

Looking further ahead into the future, Eichendorf offered this vision of roads featuring vehicles without drivers.

“The first, second and third steps using highly automated driving will improve road safety enormously. Autonomous driving, of course, would be fantastic but that’s still a long way to go.”

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