As our roads get busier and driving becomes ever-more challenging, advanced driver safety technologies present effective ways of keeping both ourselves and our passengers out of harm’s way.
We all like to think we’re good drivers. After all, every one of us passed our test, right?
But the automotive world is changing at break-neck pace, with more cars and trucks on our roads than ever before (253 million in the USA alone) – which of course means more vehicles to look out for. In addition, numbers of pedestrians and cyclists are far from dwindling.
And even if we have full faith in our own driving skills, we cannot control how other drivers behave on the road.
All this adds up to a serious challenge, even for the most skilled and conscientious driver.
Vehicle safety technology
For those of us who started driving decades ago, the modern car can seem rather over-loaded with technology. But much of this kit is designed to make driving easier and more importantly, safer.
Driver drowsiness detection
Most of us have found ourselves getting drowsy behind the wheel. But studies have revealed that around 20% of accidents are related to driver drowsiness – a figure that rises to 50% on some roads.
But technology has the answer. Today’s drowsiness detection systems monitor steering patterns, lane position, driver eye/face fatigue and other physiological data. Of course, such systems should not replace the necessity of pulling over to rest when a driver feels tired, but they could be a life saver in some situations.
Allowing vehicles to communicate with each other is another method of preventing collisions. Indeed, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence estimates that, by using such systems, 34,000 fatalities could be prevented each year in the USA alone. Such tech accurately senses the distances between vehicles.
Electronic stability control (ESC)
Losing your grip on a slippery surface is a chilling experience – not least because it’s so hard to straighten up. But electronic stability control systems are able to kick in and identify any skid risk, braking individual wheels in order to prevent a collision.
Warning and emergency braking systems
These systems are able to identify a collision risk up ahead and warn the driver. If there is no response, these systems can activate the brakes and trigger seat belt pretension systems. Related to this technology, advanced brake warning systems inform the driver how hard the car in front is braking.
Blind spot monitoring
Blind spots make it tough to stay aware of motorcyclists and cyclists – as well as other cars. But blind spot monitoring can keep tabs on what objects are in the lanes next to you, helping to prevent collisions.
Lane support systems
These technologies are used with drowsiness detection systems, but you don’t need to feel tired to accidentally slip out of lane. A brief moment of inattention can lead to us veering into the adjacent lane. These systems keep tabs on the vehicle in front and use lane departure warning technology to help keep you in lane.
At times it’s easy to lose track of how fast we’re going. Speed alerts can tell us when we’re approaching speed limits, keeping us safer – and helping us avoid speeding tickets.
Rollover prevention systems
A rollover is something we’re only likely to experience once, such is the risk of fatality. Thankfully, roll over protection systems can help avoid such a disaster, by detecting when certain factors have arisen, such as sudden swerving or dangerous acceleration around bends. A rollover system will reduce speed automatically.
The driverless car
It’s coming – whether we like it or not. What’s more, some of the world’s biggest companies are working hard to develop the first fully autonomous car. Google, Tesla, Audi and others are investing heavily in bringing these technologies to market. When perfected, they should make road travel safer than ever before.
Embracing life-saving car technologies
For some, these technologies can reduce the raw pleasure of driving. For others, handing over control to a computer goes against their instincts. But traffic accident rates speak for themselves, as does the research which demonstrates how effective the above technologies are (or will be soon) at preventing collisions.
In addition, governments around the world are either stipulating – or at least recommending – that some of these systems are fitted to new cars.
Perhaps it’s time for us all to embrace these technologies, for more relaxing, safer motoring.
Craig Hindmarsh has been a key contributor to startrescue.co.uk‘s popular blog for several years, giving him an outlet to explore his fascination with all things automotive.