Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Preventing vehicle ramming attacks


Terrorists, and others who are out of touch with human reality, are now using vehicles, especially hired vans, as weapons.

Technology exists that could mitigate these attacks by switching off the engine on the first impact. This would prevent the driver from careering on under power through a crowd causing the scale of deaths that we saw in Barcelona, Nice, Berlin, London Westminster, Stockholm, London Bridge, London Finsbury Park, Charlottesville and Toronto, to name but a few.

They would also prevent the run part of common hit-and-run accidents.

This simple technology, which might add about £50 to the cost of a van.

The alternative, physical defence against such weaponry, like building barriers to separate pedestrians from traffic countrywide, would be enormously expensive and disruptive.

A quick patent search shows several Vehicle Collision Detectors (for example JP2015081070(A)) registered by serious actors such as Toyota, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd and Denso Corporation. These are designed to warn drivers when they have hit someone. It would be a very simple matter to link one of these warning systems to the on-board computer so that the ignition was switched off immediately on impact.

The effect of this would be to prevent the vehicle from continuing to power on through a crowd of pedestrians, and so would mitigate the damage done by this modality of terrorism.

We need to a public discussion about if, how and when this protective technology should be fitted.

See also