toyota community partnerships

How Toyota is helping to make our roads safer

3 min read

In this Q&A series, we talk to community leaders and Toyota fleet partners who have proven they can take on tough challenges and come out on top.

Darren Davis has dedicated the last 30 years of his life to making roads safer. He’s embraced cutting edge technology to train and educate drivers young and old. Partnering with Toyota has meant that his work can reach more communities throughout Australia. Still, he knows there’s a long road ahead.

How did Save a Life come to be? Obviously, you’ve got a passion for road safety and driver safety, how did you take the leap into what it is today?

I've been involved in driver training and road safety for over 30 years now and my quest to make a bigger difference to road safety led me to research the effectiveness of driver simulation. I basically self-financed the purchase of Australia's only virtual reality driving simulator that connects to a real vehicle. Bendigo Bank®[C11] and Toyota Australia came on board with magnificent support. They've been involved for about six years now.

Toyota Australia has, as a major supporter, provided me with a new vehicle every year to use for all of my road safety programs, which has been fantastic. It's allowed me to get out to the regions and to get out to schools and highlight how we want our youngsters to become good safe drivers but also how to behave as passengers.

We do this through virtual reality simulation, using a real vehicle, which is the only one of its kind in the country. So for me, my journey into road safety has been a progressive one. Three-and-a-half years ago I launched the Get Home Safe Foundation and through that Toyota Australia have continued their support and that's actually grown into the support from one of the dealerships, CMI Toyota in Adelaide. They’ve become a silver partner of the Get Home Safe Foundation. Through that they've basically sponsored our annual Get Home Safe Foundation Gala. So, through the support of Toyota, my foundation has grown, as well as the schools’ program and all of the road safety programs that I do through Save a Life Australia.

Toyota is a car maker that really pushes intelligent safety technology, which may anticipate a potential collision in some circumstances. What’s your opinion of tech like this?

There are two sides to this, the more technology we introduce into cars, the less people feel they need to drive. For example, reverse cameras, people tend to think because if they've got a camera in the car, they can just use that and it's fine. But there's still no substitute for looking over both shoulders before you reverse. Even though the latest Toyota cameras have got a wider vision than any other cameras I've seen in cars, there's still no substitute for looking around.

But for me, people are humans and they make mistakes. So, if we've got things in cars that can help people when they do make mistakes, well, that's got to be a good thing. And, some of the new technologies that Toyota is coming out with, it's just incredible. I've got my latest car from Toyota Australia which is a Kluger Hybrid and I would say it's got to be pretty much the best car I've driven and that includes the BMWs that I used to drive. This car has got so much technology in it that's trying to keep me safe, it’s just super impressive.

Toyota really has pushed the boundaries and continues to spend so many millions of dollars every day on research and development to make cars safer. And I guess that's where I come from, I don't just want to do what I'm doing. I want to do more to make more people safer. And I'm so proud to have the support of Toyota because I truly believe in the brand.

It’s fair to say that drink driving isn't the problem it was 30 years ago thanks to campaigning and education – what other behaviour needs to be stamped out now?

As a society, we're more likely to speak up about drunk driving now – to tell someone not to be stupid – but we just accept that someone will just pick up the phone while they're driving. A very good friend of mine buried his 17-year-old son just over 10 years ago. His son was on his Ps, but talking on the phone to his mate and lost concentration and crashed. And my mate will always blame himself because his son grew up seeing his dad talking on the phone while driving.

The same brain neurons that you use for that conversation on the phone, are the exact same brain neurons that you need to make decisions on the road. So the brain neurons can only do one thing at a time. As soon as someone picks up a phone while they're driving, they're more likely to crash than if they were 0.8 over the drink drive limit.

“As soon as someone picks up a phone while they're driving, they're more likely to crash than if they were 0.8 over the drink drive limit.”

- Darren Davis, founder of Save a Life Australia

It’s interesting that 30 years ago, when drink driving was a bigger issue, the phone problem barely existed. What’s the next challenge and does it exist yet?

Probably one of the biggest challenges over the next 20 to 30 years is the integration of autonomous driving. How are we going to get that interaction between autonomous cars and cars that are still being driven by the human brain and, and how that's going to work? I know that there have been some incidents already. So, I think that's going to be a big challenge going forward and I really don't know what the outcome will be. I think it'll get to a level where there might be a push to not go fully autonomous, or to go fully autonomous but there's got to be one or the other. I think the integration between the two would be a big challenge.

Hopefully it’s a challenge that brings out the best of technology and humans alike. Thank you for your time and a really interesting conversation.

The way we use vehicles is ever changing, and as the autonomous conversation continues it’s clear we could even expect a revolution as big as the car itself. But one thing remains, the need to ensure safe roads. If your business has vehicles on the road it’s worth considering every aspect of safety, from safety technology to the way you communicate with your drivers. Thankfully people like Darren Davis, and companies like Toyota are committed in their pursuit of creating intelligent safety features in vehicles and educating drivers to be safer.

Our Toyota for Business team has the expertise to tailor the exact package your business needs, everything from recommending the right vehicle for the job to designing the perfect management plan. From 1 to 1,000 vehicles we can help with procurement, management, disposal and renewal. Find out how we can help you and your business.

speak with an expert

{{ disclaimer.title }}