Very interesting piece, Junko. I wonder what automotive seat belt systems engineers are working on: the car won't move until all the passengers where seat beats? Or the seatbelts automatically latch themselves?
It is amazing the # of Fatalities has dropped from over 55,000 to about 35,000 in the last 35 years. Both my parents had injuries from driving or riding in cars with no seat belts(the standard at the time)
I've been in cars where the top of sholuder belt was attached to the door and in other cars where the top of the shoulder belt was on a track and autonatically moved forward when the door was opened and moved bak when the car was started.
This technology is at least 10 years old but I haven't seen that it's increasing in prevalence. Of course, that may be because I'm driving a 14 year old car...
The less required of the driver, the more distracted they will be, and the less capable they will become should a problem arise. If seat belts are the only answer to the safety situation, then vehicle speeds will have to be limited to 7.5 MPH, as the human body is not designed to handle impacts at speeds greater than 15 MPH.
I know that planes and busses are safer than automobiles, but I still prefer my car for travel because I feel that I have at least some degree of control of the situation should a problem arise.
The idea of the car not starting till all belts are latched is quite nice. If it fails, no harm is done. The idea of it not letting you unlatch till you turn off the engine is scary though. If that fails, there's a possibility of someone being stuck in a car when they would need to get out.
Seat-belt discussions aside, I think the point the Google Car safety director is making here is that no safety measures could become a perfect solution for zero fatality. And that, by the way, includes self-driving cars.