Collision-Avoidance Systems Are Changing the Look of Car Safety

N ot so long ago, it would have seemed incredible your car would be able to”see” other vehicles or pedestrians, expect accidents, and automatically apply the brakes or take corrective steering actions. But an increasing number of cars can do that to some degree, thanks to a growing list of collision-avoidance systems.

Some of these capabilities, such as forward-collision warning systems, have been around for a couple of years, largely on high-end luxury cars. Others, like steering assist, are just getting ready for prime time. The fantastic news is that the collision-avoidance systems are getting better and are spreading to mainstream cars.

The potential for these automobile safety systems is so great that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has additional collision-avoidance system testing to its package of safety evaluations. The IIHS has determined that some of these collision-avoidance systems could prevent or mitigate many crashes. Now, to acquire top overall security scores in the IIHS, a car needs to have a forward-collision warning system with automatic braking. Moreover, any autobrake system must operate effectively in formal track tests the IIHS conducts. Visit IIHS site for test results on individual models.

The federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also on board, with an eye on making some collision-avoidance systems mandatory. NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings note which systems are available on automobiles they crash-test. Their presence doesn’t influence the Star ratings yet, though.

The cost of collision-avoidance systems may still be an obstacle. Most advanced systems now come only as part of a large options package or on a model’s higher, more costly trimming versions. Jumping into the trim line at which the safety goodies are offered Auto Services Edmonton can add thousands of dollars to a car’s price.

Lasers, Radar, and Cameras

These cutting-edge active safety systems rely on a range of sensors, lasers, cameras, and short- and long-range radar. They monitor what’s going on around the automobile –vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and even street signs–as well as the automobile itself. Inputs are processed by computers, which then prompt some action from the vehicle or the driver. Those actions may begin with attention-grabbers, such as a beep, a flashing dashboard icon, a tug from the seatbelt, or a vibration in the seat or steering wheel. If the driver does not respond, the more advanced systems then apply partial or full braking pressure.

In our ongoing evaluations we’ve found that there is a fine line between a useful electronic co-pilot and a computerized backseat driver. If a warning system emits too many inappropriate alerts, then there’s a growing temptation to switch it off.

Not every system on the market Edmonton Auto Repair today is top-notch. The IIHS has discovered that some autonomous braking systems are more effective than others. But they conclude there’s a net benefit regardless.

A 2009 study conducted by the IIHS found that a 7 percent reduction in crashes for vehicles using a fundamental forward-collision warning system, and a 14 to 15 percent reduction for those who have automatic braking.

“Even in the instances where these systems failed to prevent a crash, even if there is automatic braking going on, or when the driver does brake in response to a warning, that crash is going to be less acute than it might have been otherwise,” says David Zuby, chief research officer at the IIHS.

In the long run, these systems can do lots of good in preventing crashes from happening in the first place. However, it’s important for drivers to realize that none of those aids reduces the need to stay alert.

Current Active Safety Systems

Manufacturers routinely use unique, marketing-friendly titles for their various autobody saskatoon systems. This makes it confusing to know the system’s full capabilities. When you’re looking for a new car, be certain to ask what the safety feature does. For a detailed listing of the available systems for every manufacturer, visit our free Car Safety Hub.

Rear cross-traffic alert

Cross-traffic alert warns you of traffic approaching from the sides as possible reverse. The warning usually consists of an audible chirp along with a visual cue in either the exterior mirror or the back camera’s dash screen. The more advanced systems can also select out bikes and pedestrians.

An illustration of how collision-avoidance systems works

Forward-collision warning (FCW) and autobrake

Also called a pre-crash warning system, these stand-alone or combined radar-, laser-, or camera-based systems warn drivers of an impending collision by using visual, auditory, or physical cues. Most automobile systems also pre-charge the brakes and take other steps to prepare for impact. If the driver ignores the warnings, systems with autonomous braking, or autobrake, will apply partial or full braking force. They may be busy at anywhere from walking into highway speeds.

Blind Spot Alert

Blind-spot monitoring (BSM) and help

A blind-spot monitoring system uses radars or cameras to scan the areas beside and behind you, searching for vehicles entering or lurking on your blind zones. When such a vehicle is detected, an illuminated icon appears in or near the appropriate side-view mirror. If you signal a turn as a car is in your blind zone, some systems send a stronger alert, like a blinking light or louder chirps. More advanced systems help keep you in your lane by applying the brakes on one side of the vehicle.

Pedestrian detection and braking

Pioneered by Volvo and now offered by others, pedestrian detection can recognize a individual straying to a vehicle’s path. Some will automatically apply the brakes, if necessary, sometimes partially and sometimes to a complete stop. Some newer systems can also detect bicyclists.

Adaptive headlights

As you turn the steering wheel adaptive headlights will swivel, which helps illuminate the street when going around curves. A 2014 IIHS study found that adaptive headlights improved drivers’ response times by about a third of a second. That might be just enough to prevent, say, hitting a parked car on a dark road.