Could it be the next big car safety feature after seat belts and air bags?


It seems a little crazy but apparently, the smell of roses in our cars could be the next big safety feature after seat belts and air bags.

According to scientists from Sussex University, when driving in simulators and spraying a calm, pleasant smell at the drivers, it reduced the number of accidents.

During a laboratory driving set-up, scientists attached a spraying device to the middle of the steering wheel and when a car reached a hazard in the road, it released a fragrance.

A variety of different smells were used, including rose and lemon & civet, which is a musky smell used in the perfume industry.

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Could the smell of roses be the next big breakthrough in car safety after seats belts and air bags? © Copyright David Chatterton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The rose scent reduced accidents by 64%, whereas the musky smell increased accidents by 46%.

The oldest sense is believed to be the sense of smell which is acted on quicker than visual or auditory information.

It’s been suggested by researchers that creating smells in cars could alert the brain much faster than a visual warning.

This new idea is so far not ready for real-life application, as a kind of artificial intelligence device would be needed to sense a hazard up ahead.

A number of car manufacturers currently offer ‘fragrancing systems’ that are able to produce different scents when a button is touched.

A doctoral researcher at Sussex University, Dmitrijs Dmitrenko, said: “The idea was inspired by trends in the auto industry – the use of different in-car perfumes,” adding: “Obviously smell is very hard to investigate, it’s very hard to control and hard to get it right.”

Apparently, smell is quicker at reaching the brain – it may take a while to reach the nose but once a molecule does, the transition from nose to brain is faster than eyes and ears.

The same effect would not be gained from a rose scented air freshener as our noses quickly get used to a continual smell, say the researchers, but a puff now and again would be noticed.

The team of scientists at Sussex University are hoping to gain interest from some of the top car manufacturers.


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