Accident Defense System: My Cure for India’s Deadly Epidemic

Six years ago, I was involved in a brutal accident which left me partially paralyzed. I have healed since then and am now able to walk; however, the accident changed me. I am now a man of purpose, and Accident Defense System is the result of my experience.

At the time of my accident, I was employed by Hewlett Packard in Bangalore and often worked late. I would like to say that the conditions were unusual the night of my accident, but they were normal: the roads were broken and poorly maintained; the streets were dark because they lacked lights to guide motorists; and smog filled the air, slightly glowing in front of the headlights of my vehicle.

As I drove through the darkness on my way to work, my car was violently hit by another motorist. I don’t know how the other car was still working, but I remember it speeding off as I lay there bleeding. In India, many motorists are not properly licensed and fear being caught — and I assume that’s why the other person drove off. But as I lay their alone, I initially thought about my future and my wife; however, my thoughts quickly turned to how I was unable to move my feet.

For the next full year, I laid in a hospital bed obsessing over the inability to use my legs. I was consumed by it, and I became depressed and angry. I felt robbed of my future, and I spent most of my time thinking about who to blame. As a young professional, I came from a middle class family with dreams to make a name for myself. I was ambitious, and I worked hard to earn a spot with companies like Microsoft, Wipro, AOL, and HP; but there I was lying on a hospital bed unable to even use the toilet on my own. I was not the man I wanted to be.

My wife Lorraine was my only pillar of support during my recovery, and she never lost hope that I would walk again. Lorraine got me to use crutches, and I eventually regained the use of my legs as the inflammation and numbness slowly disappeared. My wife’s love not only helped heal my body, but as my greatest friend, she was there as I worked through my depression and anger.

While in the hospital, Lorraine and I discussed the lives of people involved in accidents and the trauma experienced by victims, their friends, and their family; and having experienced this as a couple, Lorraine encouraged me to do something that would prevent others from being in the same position as us. And from that point on, I’ve focused on using my experience and education to enhance road safety in India. But as you’ll see, this is not so easy. The issue is systemic and requires a grassroots approach to a problem that even the government is unable to handle.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India is a world leader in roadway deaths on its underdeveloped and dangerous roadways. And because most vehicles in India are sold without basic safety features such as anti-lock brakes and airbags, it is critical that motorists see dangers on the road far before they encounter them. Close to 150,000 people lost their lives on Indian roadways in 2015, and the number of fatalities is increasing at an average rate of 5% a year. Additionally, there were over half a million injures, bringing the total number of people negatively impacted by roadway accidents to 650,000.

In response to government failures and economic pressures, Accident Defense System (ADS) is a grassroots startup that saves lives by placing collision prevention tech into the hands of every motorist. Taking advantage of the increase in smartphone performance, the ADS mobile app equips motorists with the accident prevention features once limited to higher-end luxury vehicles. Armed with our “Augmented Reality Driving Enhancement,” motorists can safely navigate India’s dangerous and underdeveloped roadways. With a release date in 2017, ADS will be available for the largest audience of motorists in both Google Play and iTunes. But Let me show you how ADS helps to solve the three core issues responsible for the unnecessary roadway deaths.

The first problem leading to the large number of traffic related deaths is the roadways themselves. India’s roadways are largely underdeveloped and the country lacks any real means of maintaining the infrastructure that it does have. This results in broken and cracked roads that can often become obstacles themselves.

Additionally, thousands of new vehicles are added to the flow of traffic daily. Last September, the BBC reported that the number of new vehicles increased by an average of 9000/day (3 million a year); however, The Times of India simultaneously reported that in 2015 there was an average of 53,720 daily vehicle registrations. Although some sources state that a portion of these registrations are “re-registration[s]”, it cannot be disputed that the number of new vehicles flooding India’s roadways every day is still quite high.

As a complete system, ADS gives motorists a complete view of the road ahead, and empowers them to pick the safest route. Using the camera on a user’s mobile device to monitor the road ahead, ADS is equipped with life-saving features. “Vehicle Distance Monitoring” will measure the distance from the vehicle ahead, and “Collision Prevention Warning” will alert users if it detects a collision is likely to occur. These features will save lives by helping to prevent accidents from ever happening.

The second problem is driver behavior itself. And with many drivers failing to follow the rules of the road, it is certain that there is a strong cultural component involved. And as those behind the wheel ignore both traffic signals and police, their behavior only elevates the danger for other motorists and pedestrians. Not only does reckless driver behavior lead to an increase in roadway deaths, we often see unconscionable acts in the wake of such tragedies. Not only is it common for pedestrians to become innocent victims of an accident, they are often left without care or worry to whether they live or die. Although ADS cannot solve this problem directly, it has a feature that not only provides the user with many benefits, it will exert a strong, yet indirect force, minimizing their careless driver behavior.

While the ADS “Collision Prevention” feature will go far to reduce roadway accidents, some will still occur. With this in mind, the ADS app also includes a “Dash Cam” feature that records the last few minutes just before a collision. The benefit is that users now have a record to help resolve disputes should a collision occur. This information will provide ADS users with the same benefits that motorists all over the world gain from installing a dash camera: 1. local law enforcement will be able to determine fault; and 2. motorists will be prevented from having to pay deductibles to insurance companies because of ambiguity as to who caused the wreck. Additionally, by recording video of motorists’ daily drive, they know that their actions will be scrutinized should a collision occur. And while the Dash Cam is intended to provide assurance for the user, it will also have an indirect affect on how they choose to conduct themselves on the road.

Looking ahead, even if the Indian government were to reasonably address the underdeveloped roadway infrastructure and create a robust means of influencing driver behavior, the people of India will still be forced to drive vehicles that lack the same basic safety features that other developed countries have set as a minimum requirement: airbags and anti-lock brakes. The vehicles in India are stripped of these features before importation or locally manufactured without them. And although India recently passed legislation requiring new vehicles to include airbags, anti-lock brakes, and speed warning systems, these changes do not take effect until October of 2018. While these new requirements are necessary to stop the increase in roadway deaths, they are long overdue.

While applauding the Indian government for finally aligning vehicle safety standards with those of other developed nations, ADS also recognizes that it will take many years before there is enough of these new vehicles on the road to make a significant difference. Therefore ADS maintains its viewpoint that it is critical for motorists to see roadway threats far before they encounter them. The alternative is that motorists do not have the braking power to stop before hitting another motorist or pedestrian; and if the accident is forceful enough, motorists would likely sustain traumatic injuries because there is airbag to soften the blow.

Again, the “Vehicle Distance Monitoring” and “Collision Prevention Warning” features of ADS will go far to reduce accidents and save lives on India’s roadways. And although Indian motorists will soon be able to purchase vehicles with much improved safety features, it is still our mission “to place collision prevention tech into the hands of every motorist.” We wish all motorists safety and the peace of mind that comes with well-built roads, a trusts community of motorists, and safe vehicles. But until that time comes, ADS will empower Indian motorists to drive with confidence on India’s dangerous roadways.