Car technology that could save your life
This is no weak headline. Technology in cars is becoming more and more advanced. In 2017 we have seen some innovations that can literally be the difference between life or death in a road traffic accident. With a sharp eye on vehicle safety currently. These innovations will continue to develop in the future to make driving as safe as houses.
For now, we’re proud to take you through some of the leading technologies designed and on the market making life on the roads safer for us all.
Pedestrian Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
The Euro NCAP test website defines AEB as
Autonomous: the system acts independently of the driver to avoid or mitigate the accident.
Emergency: the system will intervene only in a critical situation.
Braking: the system tries to avoid the accident by applying the brakes.
Several accidents are caused every day by late braking or not braking with enough force. This could be because the driver is distracted. Perhaps visibility is poor. Or due to an unexpected hazard suddenly crossing the driver’s path. Most people are not used to dealing with such critical situations.
As a result, they do not apply enough braking force to avoid a crash. In many cases, they do not brake at all because there is insufficient time to react.
This is where AEB comes into play. AEB systems improve safety in two ways: Firstly, they help avoid accidents by identifying critical situations early and notifying the driver (usually via an audio notification). Secondly, they reduce the severity of unavoidable impacts by lowering the speed of collision and, in some cases, by preparing the vehicle and restraint systems for impact.
Lane Support Systems
Another fantastic innovation which will save thousands of motorists from being involved in serious accidents. Lane support systems or lane assist warn the driver when they accidentally leave the lane. It also knows if the driver changes lane without indicating. I think we have all experienced an instance where we have veered into the next lane. Even if it was just a little bit while tuning the radio. Or trying to reach something in the footwell. The lane support system monitors your position on the road. This is in order to notify you if you veer off course. Then lane departure warnings notify you to correct your driving whereas lane keeping technology automatically corrects your path.
Preventing your car from veering into the grass verge, central reservation or even oncoming traffic will prevent many crashes. Different systems use different warning signs. Some give an audible signal, others send a vibration through the steering wheel to simulate driving over the rumble strip on the road. Whichever you have installed it’s intention is to alert the driver of possible danger.
You might think that this could become annoying as a driver but they have been carefully designed and most only operate at higher speeds. Not only that, if the indicator is used the system is disabled and you will not be notified if you are changing lane. It’s a very clever piece of kit.
Blind Spot Monitoring
When driving on the motorway it can be hard to check your blind spot for other road users changing lanes and overtaking you. The rear view and wing mirrors are great, but there is still always a small spot in the rear which can’t be seen easily. This is why you must physically turn to check your blind spot before continuing to change lane.
There are several systems available now which will help drivers to change lanes safely. Some use camera-based technology to show the blind spot to the driver, others will detect in the blind spot via a radar. A simple yet highly effective safety feature designed to save lives on UK roads.
Designed to detect drowsiness and alert the driver to prevent them from falling asleep at the wheel. The audio note will prompt the driver that it is time for a break and a coffee before continuing their journey.
Speed Alert or Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA)
One of the primary causes of road traffic accidents is driving over the speed limit. Speeding isn’t always intentional. On occasion, a driver may discover they are over the limit unintentionally. Perhaps they did not see the road sign which reduced the limit. Speed restrictions are set in place for safety. If more people adhered to the speed limits there would be fewer accidents and certainly reduced the severity of the accidents that did occur.
A speed alert or ISA is designed to help drivers keep within the speed limit of the road they are using.
Some systems are very subtle and display the current limit on the dashboard alongside their current speed for comparison.The speed limit may be determined by software which analyses images from a camera and recognises traffic signs. Alternatively, satellite navigation is becoming increasingly accurate and could be used to provide information to the driver.
Some ISA systems do not inform the driver of the current speed limit. Instead, they allow the driver to set a limit of their choice and warn when that is being exceeded.
The big focus for manufacturers when it comes to safety features is ensuring that no matter what position you sit within in the car you will be protected. Restraint systems (seatbelts) are the holy grail of vehicle safety. Pre-crash technology optimises the seat belts in the event of a collision. Some work immediately following or during an impact to optimise the safety of the vehicle occupants.
Some more advanced pre-crash technologies will be able to predict when an accident will happen and prepare the vehicle for an impact. But how does it know? Well, there are several factors that pre-crash technology can monitor in order to know when a crash is imminent. This includes monitoring the people inside the car for panic reactions. Or, radar sensors can detect obstacles so you can avoid any impacts.
When the system thinks there is a crash imminent it will remove the slack from the seatbelt, adjust the seating position of all passengers and optimise airbag performance for the speed of deployment. Not only that, pre-crash technology will also close the car windows to prevent debris from flying in and to prevent passengers from flying out of the car. In such cases, the actions taken are reversible in the event that the accident is avoided.
Good visibility is vital to making good driving decisions. In bad weather or when driving at night the process of making good decisions based upon your visibility is compromised. Adaptive headlights are great for anyone who drives a lot of Country roads or motorways at night. The full beams on adaptive headlights are designed to shine the light around each curve giving the driver a stronger view of potential hazards up ahead. Night vision systems further improve night-time visibility beyond what can be seen with conventional headlights by using night imaging technology.
With all these great safety features and more available in today’s cars, the roads are becoming a safer place to be. We look forward to seeing, even more, technology advancements in the near future designed to give us an even safer experience while on the roads.