What safety systems are found in cars?

We look at some of the safety systems you might find in the latest car models...

Cars these days are safer than ever. Volvo have even pledged to eliminate all death and serious injury in new Volvo cars by 2020. An impressive and massive promise to make, but one that we think they will be able to manage.

And Volvo aren’t the only ones improving safety in their cars, car brands are constantly improving safety in our cars.

So what sort of safety systems feature in our cars these days?

In this article, we are going to look at what safety systems you might see in the latest models, how they work, and what safety features you should look out for in a new car.

What safety features are found in cars?

The following are safety features that you may find in some of the latest models. They will not be in every new model you see, and they may be under a different name or feature different things. However, the overall concept of the safety feature will be pretty universal.

Pre-Collision System

This safety feature will not prevent collision or reduce damage or injury in every situation. Please don’t solely rely on this to prevent an accident or injury. But, pre-collision systems can come in handy. Here’s how they work.

Vehicle Detection

This safety system uses cameras and a radar to detect the vehicle in front of yours. When the system determines that the chance of a collision is high, it will prompt the driver to take action and brake. This will be done using an audible and visual alert.

When you brake, the system might provide you with additional braking using Brake Assist. This depends how strongly you push on the brakes. If you do not brake in a set time, then the system may automatically apply the brakes if it thinks the chance of a collision is high. This will reduce the speed and help the driver reduce impact. This may also avoid the collision.

man with black shoes and blue jeans pushing down on the brake of a car

The alerts will operate when you are going between 7 and 110MPH so a majority of the time you are driving. It may also reduce your vehicle speed by up to 25MPH for potential collisions.

Pedestrian Detection

Some systems may also come with pedestrian detection.

four people walking over a zebra crossing in the sun

Pedestrian Detection works in the way that it detects pedestrians based on size, profile and motion of the detected pedestrian. The system determines the possibility of a frontal collision with said pedestrian. If it determines that the risk is high, it prompts the driver to take action using audible and visual alerts.

If the driver does not brake in time, the system will apply the brakes and reduce the speed, potentially avoiding collision.

Pedestrian Detection will work when vehicle speed is between 7-50MPH.

The pre-collision braking might not operate if certain actions are taken by the driver. This includes if the accelerator is being depressed strongly or the steering wheel is being turned. This is because the system may decide that the driver is taking enough action to attempt to avoid the collision.

Lane Departure Alerts

Lane Departure Warnings are pretty common in cars these days, and it’s important that you know how these work. It should be noted that you should not solely rely on Lane Departure warnings as they may not work in every situation.  

Lane Departure Alert systems use a camera to detect a visible white and yellow lane marker in front of the vehicle and the position the vehicle is in on the road. If the system determines that the vehicle is starting to deviate from the lane unintentionally, the system will alert the driver using audible and visual alerts. The driver then must check the surrounding road situation and operate the steering wheel to move the vehicle back to the centre of their lane.

Lane Departure Alert is designed to function at around 32MPH or higher on a relatively straight road.

Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist

If you have Lane Departure with Steering Assist, then this will work in the same way as the Lane Departure Alert.

However, if the system determines that the vehicle is unintentionally departing from its lane, it may provide a small corrective steering input for a short period of time to keep the vehicle in the lane.

This may not always work, and you should not rely on it to work all the time. You should still remain vigilant when it comes to your vehicle and the vehicles around you.

lane departure assist diagram with blue car

Lane Keep Assist

Lane Keep Assist is a driver assist function, and aids the driver with some of the steering operations necessary for staying in their current lane. This is used if cruise control is on, and is deactivated when the driver is not holding the steering wheel and steering.

Vehicle Sway Warning

This system monitors the vehicle’s position in the lane and the driver’s actions in order to detect vehicle sway.

Vehicle sway can often occur when the driver is drowsy, not paying attention or distracted. In the case of vehicle sway, the driver will be alerted before the deviate from the road. It will do this by sounding a buzzer and displaying a warning indicator.

Intelligent High Beam

Intelligent High Beams use cameras to detect the headlights of oncoming vehicles and the brake lights of preceding vehicles. It then automatically switches between high and low beams. This provides the most light possible and enhances visibility and may allow earlier detection of preceding pedestrians and obstacles.

Cruise Control

Cruise Control is one of the more common safety features and no doubt you would have heard of it on occasion.

Cruise Control helps vehicles travel at a consistent speed set by the driver and maintain a pre-set distance to a preceding vehicle.

cruise control indicator on a car

Cruise Control uses a radar and an in-vehicle camera to detect the vehicle in front and help determine the distance. If the vehicle is travelling at a slower speed than your set speed or within the distance range, the system will decelerate for you without having to cancel the cruise control. The system may also apply the brakes and operate the brake lights if needs be.

When the vehicle accelerates or is out of the distance range, then the vehicle will accelerate until the set speed is reached.

All-Speed Dynamic Radar

Some cruise controls are designed to cover speeds below 25MPH.

A warning about the above safety features

We know that you don’t need to be told this, but we do feel it has to be said. Do not rely on these safety features alone to prevent collisions or to stay in lane. You should remain vigilant at all times. These simply aid you when it comes to preventing collisions.

These systems will not always work to their best ability. This includes in situations where the weather is bad, you are going below or above a certain speed or turning corners repeatedly. These features work best when travelling at a consistent speed on a relatively straight road with even terrain, during mild weather. You can read more about staying safe in extreme weather conditions here

You should always refer to your car’s manual to find out specifically when each safety feature works best, and when it doesn’t.

What other safety systems should I look for in a car?

These aren’t the only safety systems that are available, and there are other safety features that you might want to look out for when looking at new cars;

Anti-lock Braking System

This feature is designed to give the driver some control when the car brakes harshly. It is designed to stop wheels from locking up during an emergency brake. This is done by putting an electric device on the hydraulics in the brake system.  

Traction Control System

Traction Control System is designed to prevent the car from skidding or slipping during acceleration. It monitors each wheel for excess spin and will apply the brake to the individual wheel if a wheel is spinning too fast.

black traction control button

Electronic Stability Programme

This incorporates Anti-lock braking and traction control and regulates the vehicle if it’s being driven beyond its physical capabilities.

Blind Spot Information System

Developed by Volvo, this also features on Ford cars. It uses a sensor that detects other vehicles to the side and the rear of the car. Drivers are then alerted with visual or audio aids, as well as touch based notifications. You can read more about what safety features to look for in a car here

Hopefully this has given you some more information on how different safety systems operate. As we said, these aren’t going to be available in all makes and models or may be under different names, or work slightly differently. These safety features are designed to help you when you are driving and you should still remain just as vigilant as you would if you did not have these features in your vehicle. For more information on how other active safety systems work, you can read our article here.  

Do you make safety a priority when choosing a new car? Some car manufacturers are leading the way with new safety features,  Find out which ones made our top 10 list here

Holly Martin

Content Co-ordinator at OSV Ltd
Holly enjoys: Reading, music and spending time with friends.

Within a week of Holly starting work at OSV she became an indispensable part of the marketing team. She's very intuitive and gets on with the whole office effortlessly.
Holly Martin

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