Innovations such as driver and passenger side airbags, side impact airbags, and crumple zones have helped protect drivers in the event of a crash. However, automakers are going a step further by rolling out new gadgets and technologies that help drivers steer clear of scenarios where a possible crash could occur. The following takes a look at some of these new technologies and the impact they’ll have on road safety.
Making a Difference on the Road
The importance of staying safe behind the wheel cannot be overstated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes rank as one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with more than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers treated in emergency rooms as a result of motor vehicle crashes in 2009.
The latest in crash avoidance and crash safety technology promises to lower motor vehicle fatalities and make the roads a safer place to be. But as these new features make their way into cars, trucks and SUVs throughout the U.S., it remains to be seen how they’ll perform as the years and miles wear on. While these technologies are likely to be covered under factory warranties, having an extended warranty from Carchex offers greater peace of mind for drivers concerned about any long-term maintenance issues.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently launched a new test program to rate the performance of crash avoidance systems. They used over 74 2013-2014 vehicle models, based on a three-tier rating system of “basic,” “advanced” and “superior” to help consumers make comparisons and informed buying decisions. The latest in crash avoidance gadgets includes:
- Lane Departure Warning Systems – Lane changes and merge crashes make up five percent of police-reported crashes and 0.5 percent of fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Lane departure warning systems such as those found in the 2014 Chevy Silverado and other General Motors vehicles use a combination of sensors and radar to alert drivers if they stray out of their lane through audio warnings and in some vehicles, seat vibration.
- Telematics – The vast majority of today’s vehicles now offer telematics systems such as GM’s OnStar. These systems work in concert with voice-activated navigation and controls to help drivers remain focused on the road ahead. Some of the features offered via telematics include turn-by-turn navigation, hands-free calling, and third-party app services.
- Self-Parking Systems – Backup cameras and audio warnings are giving way to self-parking, one of several automated avoidance technologies currently under development by a number of automobile industry players. Self-parking systems are aimed towards making parallel parking and parking in tight spots much easier. Ford recently unveiled its self-parking technology alongside its obstacle avoidance system in the Ford Edge Concept. According to the manufacturer, drivers can activate this system with just the push of a button or via remote control from outside of the vehicle.
- Automatic Braking – Mazda, Subaru and Volvo are among the growing number of automakers to develop and include automatic braking systems in their mainstream offerings. This new technology is intended to help drivers come to a quick yet safe stop in situations that require panic braking, even if the driver’s reflexes are slow on the draw.
My personal belief about all of the new technology being introduced into vehicles is that some of it is good and will help keep motorists safer on our roadways, while some is more of a distraction than the auto makers would like us to believe. I also believe that the technology should be employed as an assist to drivers not a replacement and that in many cases it is making drivers stupid. We at DrivingMBA make our students aware of the technological advances in many new vehicles today, however, when we teach students, we teach them to “do the work themselves,” in other words, not to rely on the technology to park their vehicle or check what is behind their vehicle or check to make a safe lane change. It is important for drivers to know how to do all of these things safely, because technology doesn’t always work and when the “screen goes blue” we need to know what to do!