With the overwhelming majority of car accidents attributed to human error, new safety technologies have come in to catch our mistakes and reduce accidents. While there is no replacement for attentive driving, these new features can be a welcome safety net with the statistics to prove it. Here are some of the most effective driver assistance technologies out on the market.
With over 40 different names for the software across different brands, we’ll stick to calling it automatic brakes. The technology works exactly like its name: if the software detects an imminent forward collision, it will apply the brakes without the driver’s input.
Car owners seem to be in two camps about it. Some report it activating without any obvious reason — the system triggering over railroad tracks and traffic features in the middle of the road such as lights, signposts, and isles. Other drivers claim it intervening and saving their bacon from what was an inevitable accident.
No matter your opinion, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that cars equipped with the technology have 50% fewer rear-end collisions. While they have their detractors, consider that every year manufacturers are ironing out bugs and improving the software to be more effective and trigger fewer false alarms. It’s only a matter of time until automatic brakes became a godsend for every driver on the road.
With 800,000 blind spot accidents each year in America, it should come as no surprise that blind-spot detectors reduce accidents. Often appearing as a light on a car’s mirrors, these detectors warn drivers of vehicles in their blind spots without having to look over their shoulders.
While it is a simple piece of safety equipment, a study found cars equipped with blind-spot detectors had 14% fewer lane-changing crashes. As they remove the need to look over your shoulder, your eyes can spend more time on the road in front of you as well.
Upgraded versions of blind-spot detectors warn drivers when they are about to change lanes into another vehicle and even manipulate the steering and brakes if necessary. With a large vehicle, a blind-spot detector can be an integral part of your road awareness.
Adaptive Cruise Control
Adaptive cruise control (ACC) isn’t just a safety feature — able to automatically brake and speed up in traffic — it can make long stints on the highway more relaxing as it takes much of the work out of your hands. It’s important to note that adaptive cruise control is meant to aid the driver, not replace them. So, just because your car is doing the brunt of the work, you are still driving and have a responsibility to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
The technology isn’t perfect, and there are plenty of news stories covering crashes where the driver treated the system as infallible. That being said, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found adaptive cruise control provided “substantial benefit” in mild-braking situations, and the Highway Loss Data Institute found BMW’s ACC-equipped cars had reduced insurance claims up to 37%. ACC is probably the most luxurious safety feature to add to your car.
As the name implies, back-up cameras display what is behind your car on a screen usually found on the center screen. As of May 2018, the government has required all passenger vehicles under 10,000 pounds are equipped with one — and for a good reason. Thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths occur each year from cars unexpectedly backing up into people with an overwhelming number of children.
When drivers turn on their car, 30% check their back-up cameras first. We should encourage other drivers to pick up the same habit as vehicles equipped with back-up cameras and automatic rear braking were found to cut reverse accidents by a startling 78 percent! With numbers like that, what more proof do you need that technology is making our world a safer place?
We’ve all been driving late at night and have had cars coming at us with their high beams on, turning our rear-view mirror into a disco ball or hitting us straight on, temporarily blinding us.
Not only is this annoying, but it’s also dangerous. High beams have their place, illuminating dark roads, not the inside of other cars. So instead of counting on other drivers to switch their high beams on and off responsibly, once again, we can turn to technology.
Automatic high beams are nothing new, but they can be slow to react to other vehicles on the road. With adaptive driving beam (ADB) headlights, cars can leave their high beams on, and instead of a computer turning them on and off, they will use shutters inside the lamps to manipulate the light from hitting cars on the road directly without turning off the high beams.
While the technology costs a few thousand dollars, it’s only a matter of time until it trickles down to cheaper cars. But as they provide 86% more illumination on the road, the cost could be worth it for some drivers now.
Lane Keeping Assist
Lane-keeping assist works by watching the pavement markings and either dinging at the driver if they stray out of the lines or nudges the steering back to the center. While helpful in many situations, many drivers dislike the sudden loss of control — which can often be startling.
But no matter how many drivers dislike the intrusive piece of technology, statistics don’t lie. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that cars equipped with the systems reduced crashes by 11% and injuries by 21%.
With numbers like that, more drivers should accept their car might overreact to a bend in the road, knowing it might just save them one day.
Cars drifting out of their lanes can be among the most deadly accidents — particularly on two-lane roads — so it’s no surprise lane-departure warning systems significantly reduce accidents.
Understandably, some drivers don’t want control of their vehicle suddenly yanked out of their hands, but the overwhelming amount of traffic accidents are due to human error. Until we can prove that we are better off without technology intervening in our driving, it should be seen as a welcome safety net.