Technology is making large impacts on crash avoidance safety features in new cars that can help you avoid hitting pedestrians, from steering off a roadway, and even notifying you when you are getting drowsy. Certain auto insurance companies are pushing for these new features and offering safety feature discounts as well. Early studies have proven that forward collision warning systems and autobraking is reducing rear-end crashes by 40 and 23 percent respectively because of these two technologies.
- Front Crash Prevention Systems
One of the systems that the National Traffic Safety Administration, the government agency, responsible for testing vehicle crash worthiness wants implemented into every model is Front Collision Warning (FCW) and Prevention (FCP). This safety feature comes with two very different options and results in different crash prevention statistics.
A simple FCW system includes forward radar or infrared laser detecting sensors that monitor the front of the vehicle and warn the driver of an impending crash by sound or a haptic output. Haptic outputs on current vehicles include a ‘rumble seat’, vibrating steering wheel or door panels or a tug on your seat belt. The FCP offers one step further by enabling the vehicle to automatically apply the brakes on the vehicle if it senses an impending forward collision. These systems are optimal at preventing crashes and injuries at city driving speeds and become less effective at higher speeds. The Volvo City Safety system has proven 47% effective in lowering the risk of injury.
An NTSB special report on this technology recommended that the NHTSA develop systems to test FCW systems and recommended manufacturers start including FCW at a minimum as part of a standard safety feature.
- Rear Camera & Rear Cross Traffic
The NHTSA announced a new rule for vehicle manufacturers mandating that all models by May 2018 include a rear camera technology to help prevent rear back-over crashes involving pedestrians and children. This technology is expected to save up to 100 lives per year.
- Blind Spot Monitoring and Assist
Blind spots can be the most dangerous spot on your vehicle when driving as it is an area that you cannot view without taking your eyes of the road. Radar detectors placed in the rear quarter panels of your car detect if there are vehicles in this area. Usually you are notified with a light in your side mirrors, a beep or even a haptic vibration if you are signalling a lane change. Luxury vehicles with this technology may even provide a steering wheel assist by preventing you from entering the lane where the other vehicle is. With the many distractions for today’s drivers, this technology can save your life.
- Adaptive Headlights
Adaptive headlights actually move right to left as you steer into and out of corners. This provides a much better field of view during night time driving when rounding bends on rural roads or turning corners where there are no street lights. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) an independent safety testing organization will include testing for adaptive headlights in their coveted Top Safety Pick as early as 2017.
- Lane Departure Warning & Prevention
Similar to blind spot monitoring, Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and its better cousin Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) will actually warn you and keep you in your driving lane respectively. The warning system provides you a beep sound or haptic feedback to let you know when you are straying from your driving lane. Whereas LDP actually adjusts your steering wheel to keep you within the lines of road preventing you from driving off the road or into oncoming traffic.
- Pedestrian Detection & Braking
Another radar or infrared laser detection system that was specifically built to alert drivers about pedestrians or cyclists that have entered or are about to enter their driving lane, allowing the driver to take evasive action. The best systems start automatically applying the brakes of the vehicle to avoid hitting the pedestrian or cyclist. A technology still in its infancy, expect it to grow in prevalence; currently only found on very few models like the Volvo S60.
- Drowsiness Detection
20% of fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver. Nissan new Maxima model sports a drowsiness detector and alert system that measures your driving behaviour and lets you know with an amber light if you are starting to get drowsy.
Expect many of these new technologies to become standard features in your next new vehicle as the NHTSA and NTSB push for further crash avoidance safety features in vehicles because of their reduction in accidents and fatalities.