The good news is that our cars are safer than they've ever been. Improvements in vehicle structure and the addition of countless safety features have led to record-low traffic fatality rates. (For now, anyway.)
The bad news is that our safer cars are doing a much better job of trapping occupants during accidents. A few months ago, we told you about the new and improved Jaws of Life that have been designed to extract vehicle occupants after collisions. Now, Mercedes-Benz is working to facilitate that process, too.
Its solution: QR codes.
You probably know QR codes as the square, "quick reference" bar codes found mostly on ads in magazines. If you own a smartphone, you might even have an app that scans QR codes and pulls up additional information on various products (though there's a good chance you've never used it).
Recently, someone at Mercedes-Benz had the very bright idea to use QR codes to relay rescue information. This eliminates the need for emergency responders to track down a vehicle's "rescue sheet", which details the location of airbags, electric cables, batteries, tanks, and other elements. Having that information at the ready speeds rescue times and ensures that no rescuers get injured in the process.
According to a press release, as of this year, all Mercedes vehicles will carry two QR stickers, one of which will be located on the fuel tank flap, with the other found on the B-pillar on the opposite side of the vehicle. As the automaker points out, "it seldom occurs that both these parts are badly damaged at the same time in an accident, and they are furthermore easily accessible from the outside". In a rescue situation, responders can scan the QR code with a smartphone or tablet, giving them instant access to the data they need to make the rescue go as smoothly and safely as possible.
There are many ways to use new technology to improve rescue times, but this is by far one of the smartest, simplest, and least expensive applications we've seen. Mercedes-Benz deserves credit for thinking of it, and other automakers would be wise to follow suit -- including placing their own QR codes in the same locations.
By the way: if you own a Mercedes-Benz, Smart, or other Daimler-made vehicle, you can download a rescue sheet for your own car by clicking here.