The Detroit auto show started last week and runs through January 26th. There are the debuts of new models from domestic and international car manufacturers, concept cars, and lots of new technology. Chief among the new offerings arriving in cars are those technologies that are grouped in a category referred to as advanced car safety systems. They aren’t quite as sexy as the new Corvette, but if they better protect us from accidents, we’ll be just as appreciative of them.
Advanced car safety systems began showing up only in the luxury segment about two years ago, but as the price of these technologies decreases they are showing up in the entry level and mid-tier models too. Advanced car safety systems comprise a broad offering of systems that are designed to aid the driver as well as avoid accidents.
Park Assist: Park assist helps drivers do something they may feel awkward doing, parallel parking their vehicle. These systems provide cameras and measure distances to let the driver know if they are getting too close to either the car parked behind or in front of them. The more advanced systems actually help with measuring the space to ensure your car will fit and steering the car properly into the parking spot.
Lane Departure Warning: Everyone occasionally takes their eyes off the road to look at something in the car or along the roadway. In instances like this, it’s easy to find you’ve begun to drift into the next lane. Lane departure systems provide an audible warning, flash a light or signal on the dash, or vibrate the steering wheel or seat to warn the driver if they’re beginning to drift into the next lane without using the turn signals. If the vehicle has advanced stability control, the system may even correct the driver’s steering back into the correct lane to avoid hitting the car next to them.
Blind Spot Warning: Ever start to change lanes only to discover someone is already there “hiding” in your blind spot? Blind spot warning systems monitor who’s beside you by using lasers or radar. Warnings may be lights or icons on your side mirrors, or an audible warning may sound to apprise you of the other car’s presence.
Adaptive Cruise / Speed Control: During Dallas rush hour, it’s pretty easy to go from stop and go to an almost normal speed, then have to slow down again. Adaptive speed control warns the driver if they’re approaching a slow moving vehicle or stopped car too fast. In more advanced systems, the car may begin to apply the brakes to avoid a collision in addition to sounding an audible alarm.
Some models integrate the adaptive speed control with the cruise control. In these cases, the system monitors the distance between the driver’s car and the car in front of them and maintains a safe distance. In some cases, it will even accelerate the car once the other vehicle is no longer there.
Backup Cameras: These cameras are designed to help the driver see what’s behind them when the car shifts into reverse. This is an excellent advance that’s becoming pretty common either as standard equipment or as an option and keep drivers from backing over objects and small children.
Advanced car safety technologies are available on most high end vehicles as standard equipment. They’re also available on many more in the mid-tier level too. For example, Subaru offers adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane sway and departure warning through their EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. In the near term, look for similar offerings from Ford, Chevy, and Dodge on their entry level models.
Some people predict these systems are leading us to self-driving cars such as Google’s car. I don’t know if we’ll have that by the predicted year of 2020, but I do see these systems making all of us better and safer drivers given the varied driving conditions in the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex, Texas, and across the country.
No insurance companies offer discounts on these car safety systems as they do for anti-lock brakes and air bags. I expect that to change in the not too distant future as these systems become more common and the industry is better able to gauge their effectiveness. What would you like to see? Share your comments, questions, and ideas with me in the comments section of our blog or on our Facebook and Google + pages. I’d love to hear from you!