Car safety has come a long way in a short while. These days, it’s easier than ever to get from point A to B without getting in an accident, as long as you’re paying attention to the road. Let’s review some of the best car safety innovations of the last decade.
Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
Driving while distracted is more common these days with so many of us driving with cell phones next to us. Fortunately, software developers have been impressive in AEB systems so that the car can automatically slow down if an unavoidable crash is imminent.
The details of these systems vary by manufacturer. But usually, if there is a crash about to occur, the system will:
- Tell the driver a crash is going to occur by alerting the driver with an audible warning and possibly a shaking seat and steering wheel.
- If you don’t hit the brakes in time, the system will engage your brakes to reduce the chances of a crash.
- Engage the anti-lock brake system so the wheels don’t lock up and skid the vehicle.
Traffic Sign Recognition
Have you ever failed to notice a sign telling you to stop or slow down? It’s possible to miss something important if you take your eyes off the road for even a second. Luckily, there is technology being developed that can see the street signs we miss and automatically slow or stop the vehicle.
Rear-view cameras are a life-saving technology that is standard on all new vehicles. This handy camera gives you a clear view of what is behind you when going in reverse, which can reduce the number of fender benders you have.
More importantly, rear-view cameras safeguard children and animals from being run over. There have been thousands of child injuries and fatalities over the years where cars backed over them. These tragic accidents will happen much less often with this critical safety feature.
A blind-spot monitoring system keeps watch over those areas you can’t see in your side and rearview mirrors. With radar or video data, the system will detect if a car is moving into a blind spot by sounding a tone or making a visual cue.
In the most advanced blind-spot monitoring systems, vehicles can even move further away from the offending vehicle. This is an especially important safety feature for a large SUV or van, or any of us who are on the highway a lot.
In the next five years, it’s likely that all new vehicles will come with blind-spot monitoring as a regular safety feature.
Facial Recognition Software
Facial recognition software is starting to show up on moderately priced vehicles. It measures how alert the driver is and tells you when you seem distracted or fatigued. Subaru has been one of the leaders in facial recognition technology and others are expected to follow suit in the next three or four years.
For now, the warnings come as a tone or buzzing sound to alert the driver, but we expect there will be more aggressive systems later that vibrate the steering wheel and seat.
Lane Keeping Assist
If you are on the highway for a long time, it’s easy to lose attention and drift out of your lane. Common causes of lane-drift accidents include cell phone use, health problem, and falling asleep behind the wheel.
The lane-keeping assist program gives the driver an audible warning when the car drifts out of the lane. More advanced systems also can make corrective action to keep the car in the lane.
Did you ever go around a curve at night and not be able to see what’s in front of you? That’s because standard headlights always point ahead no matter if you’re making a turn or going around a curve.
Adaptive headlights are subtle innovation but are a huge safety improvement. These headlights are connected to the steering system and turn in the same direction as your steering wheel. You can always see the road in front of you no matter if you’re turning or going straight.
This safety feature is a big deal in rural areas with reduced outdoor lighting.
Thanks to these safety advances, we think cars are safer to drive than ever and things will only get better in the future.