QUT Erika Fish
photo courtesy of QUT

Expanding innovations in technology are being applied to auto safety and now congruently, cyclists’ safety. The Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety (CARRS-Q) at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has assumed a leading role in developing automated communications between motorists and cyclists. Next, see how your iPhone may one day save your life…

Dr Sebastien Demmel QUT
Dr Sebastien Demmel of QUT’s CARRS-Q

Dr. Sebastien Demmel is a PhD researcher at CARRS-Q with a background in electrical and mechanical engineering. Since joining CARRS-Q in 2009 Dr. Demmel has focused on intelligent transports, sensor systems, data fusion and vehicle-to-vehicle/infrastructure communications. He cites research when stating “most cyclist fatalities involve a collision with a motor vehicle and these typically occur because of human error, or one not seeing the other.” A solution to this has become the focus of his research.

Leveraging current technology enables faster development to market. Smartphones, WiFi, global positioning, and Bluetooth — all utilizing a theoretical, centralized database — are components in Dr. Demmel’s project that is pushing to create a “smart device app which can locate, track, connect and communicate between devices and warn both rider and driver if there is a reasonable chance of a collision,” stated Dr. Demmel via QUT news.

This idea is leap-frogging off the current development of vehicle-to-vehicle communications that promise to increase traffic safety via the provision of realtime, relative locations of fellow motorists. With the growing ubiquity of mobile devices, and their associated challenges to safety, e.g., texting while driving/riding, this promising move toward increased safety is welcomed.

Dr. Demmel and his CARRS-Q team will be presenting their findings and progress at QUT’s March 6th conference, Cycling Safety and Injury Prevention: Current and Future Priorities.


  1. Paying attention to the road when driving and ignoring your phone is what needs to happen. Isolation from one’s surroundings is a fundamental problem with automobiles; this makes increases that separation.

  2. Alas, Puffy, do you have evidence this will do as you claim? I thought not. Sure, we can wait for some pollyanna future were drivers never make mistakes, but I’d prefer reducing the danger to cyclists through multiple methods rather than relying on one and waiting on a future that won’t come.

  3. Does an incorrectly used theory with a name that happens to evoke images of a small girl add anything to this? No, it doesn’t.

    I agree, multiple methods are needed to fix this problem. But a plan that requires everyone on the road to have a smart phone? NOT. IMPRESSED.

    But I can see how it is appealing to have the responsibility of looking for other road users removed. If your phone is supposed to be looking for cyclists, you probably won’t.
    You know this, because you are human.

  4. Uhm, this wouldn’t remove the responsibility to look out for others. Claiming as much is what’s called “fear mongering.” This technology being developed is what’s called a “driving aid.” Also note that nowhere does the article say that the phone will alert you via a text message or an automated call. Imagine instead that instead the phone makes a “distinctive sound” that indicates a possible impending collision. Wow! The wonders of technology. Of course, one could assume that you would be required to pick up the phone to hear a message or to a read a message about a potential impending collision, but how smart would that be, eh? I think the vast majority of people would say, “Heck, that wouldn’t be smart because then that would be a distraction.” Of course, you don’t have to be one of those people.

    Alas, no one said all such systems will require phones, did they? No, of course not. Some systems will come pre-installed in cars. Until the time that every single car on the road has such a collision warning system, a smart is a useful bridge from our current options to future options.

    You should also note that CARRS-Q is doing what’s called “research” into this application. That means they’re studying how it would be implemented and how effective it would be. That’s how the efficacy of such a system would be best tested. The wrong way to test the efficacy would be to assume something like “If your phone is supposed to be looking for cyclists, you probably won’t” or “…this makes increases that separation” without any factual basis for such claims. Perhaps you have the results of a study or two about collision warning systems. If so, you should send it to CARRS-Q, so that they don’t waste their time thinking critically and using that whole scientific method thing.

  5. I can see the future news articles now:

    Cyclist killed by driver in accident. “I didn’t see him” said the driver. The cyclist was not carrying a smartphone. No criminality suspected.

What do you think?