These safety features in new automobiles can help drivers avoid hitting pedestrians, steering off a roadway, and even dosing off. Technology is making large advances on crash avoidance that should reduce the number of people hurt in accidents. Certain auto insurance companies are pushing for these improvements and offering discounts to encourage people to look for them. Early studies have proven that forward collision warning systems and auto-braking is reducing rear-end hits by 40 and 23 percent respectively because of these two solutions.
- Front Crash Prevention Systems
The National Traffic Safety Administration, the government agency, responsible for testing vehicle crash worthiness, wants Front Collision Warning (FCW) and Prevention (FCP) implemented into every model. It comes with two very different options and results in different impact statistics.
A simple FCW solution includes forward radar or infrared laser detecting sensors that monitor the front of the vehicle and warn the motorists of an impending impact by sound or a haptic output. Haptic outputs on current vehicles include a ‘rumble seat’, vibrating handle or door panels or a tug on seat belt. The FCP offers one step further by enabling the vehicle to automatically apply the brakes if it senses an impending forward collision. They are optimal at averting impacts and injuries at city speeds and become less effective at higher speeds. The Volvo City Safety has proven 47% effective in lowering the risk of injury.
An NTSB special report on this innovation recommended that the NHTSA develop a way to test FCWs and suggested manufacturers start including it to meet the minimum standards.
- Rear Camera & Cross Traffic
The NHTSA announced a new rule for vehicle manufacturers mandating that all models must include a rear camera to help prevent back-over clashes involving pedestrians and children. It is expected to save up to 100 lives per year.
- Blind Spot Monitoring and Assist
Blind spots can be the most dangerous area surrounding a vehicle as they cannot be viewed without taking eyes off the road. Radar detectors placed in the rear quarter panels of a car notice if there are vehicles in this area. Usually you are notified with a light in 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 that averts entering the lane where there are other vehicles. With the many distractions for today, it can save lives.
- 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 body, will include testing for adaptive headlights in their coveted Top Safety Pick.
- Lane Departure Warning & Prevention
Similar to blind spot monitoring, LDW and its better cousin Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) will actually warn you and keep you in it. The warning system provides you a beep sound or haptic feedback to let you know when you are straying from it. Whereas LDP actually adjusts a steering wheel to keep you within the lines of the road averting you from driving off or into oncoming traffic.
- Pedestrian Detection & Braking
Another infrared laser solution is built specifically to alert motorists about pedestrians or cyclists that enter the lane, allowing them to take evasive action. The best systems start automatically applying the brakes to avoid hitting people on foot or bikes. 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 device that measures driving behaviour and lets you know with an amber light if you are starting to get sleepy.
Expect many of these to become standard features in your next new vehicle as the NHTSA and NTSB push for further similar innovations in vehicles because of reduction in accidents and fatalities.