Honda’s Plan for Zero Traffic Collision Deaths Is All About Tech, Ignores Everything Else


Historically, carmakers have always tried to make their vehicles as safe as possible, not necessarily because they care about safety, but also because safety sells. Then government regulations were drafted, and carmakers were forced to include a series of features that over the years managed to save countless lives.

But even governments know asking carmakers to come up with the perfect car, one that will save the driver’s life no matter what, is a big stretch. There are simply too many factors at play, many of which are impossible to control or regulate, to be so naive as to believe one day driving will no longer get people killed.

But this hasn’t stopped the brand we all associate with car safety from promising no more people will die in its cars. It’s Volvo we’re talking about, a company that not long said it will have zero fatalities by 2020. Did it succeed? Who knows, it’s impossible to keep track of what all the Volvos in this world are doing.

Maybe that’s exactly what Honda was betting on when it made pretty much the same promise. In its case, the target is 2050, a year that should bring complete safety, and exactly zero fatalities in Honda cars and on Honda motorcycles.

The Japanese carmaker waxed poetic this week (full details on that in the press release section below) about things such as the “world’s first artificial intelligence (AI)-powered Intelligent Driver-Assistive Technology.” It also spoke of the Safe and Sound Network Technology “which connects all road users, both people and mobility products, through telecommunications, making it possible to predict potential risks.” And it even hinted at expanding “application of a motorcycle detection function and further enhance functions of its ADAS.”

Now, don’t get us wrong, we’re all for perfect safety on the road, but we all know there is no such thing as perfect anything. Sure, probably Honda (and Volvo, and others) will roll out such amazing tech that it will become very difficult to get killed on account of driver errors or mechanical failures when driving one of their cars.

But not everyone will be driving Hondas, or Volvos, and not all technology is flawless. Some people will climb drunk on board 18-wheelers, and no car in this world is any match for the metal behemoths. Tires, even the ones on high-tech cars, can explode and send the vehicle, with all its very advanced technology, right into a tree. And of course some people, as demonstrated time and again by some Tesla drivers, are plain stupid, and no tech in the world can prevent them from doing stupid things.

So, when Honda says “zero traffic collision fatalities involving Honda motorcycles and automobiles globally by 2050,” it doesn’t really mean that. What it means is that some Honda drivers and will no longer die because of the car itself, or some (not all) of the stupid things they do behind the wheel.

Is this lying? Let’s call it a stretching of the truth. One few will even care about in 2050.