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When airbags reached widespread commercial use in the 1970s and 80s, they seemed liked the absolute pinnacle for driver safety.
Few could imagine that the following decades would not only see further advancements to protect drivers, but more importantly, the development of technologies that can actually prevent auto accidents entirely. Whether you’re in the market for a new car or simply a tech enthusiast, these cutting-edge safety features are bound to impress.
Whether through fatigue or simple inattention, distracted drivers unexpectedly drifting out of their lane into yours is a harrowing experience. To cope with this, car manufacturers have developed two systems: departure warning and the more advanced prevention system. Lane departure warning systems work by alerting the driver through visual or audio cues, while prevention systems directly attempt to steer the vehicle back into its lane. This system is one of the most effective car crash prevention technologies, with estimates showing fatal accidents reduced by as much as 86 percent.
Regardless of how sharp your vision may be, it’s a fact that all drivers have blind spots. While mirrors can help to cope with this, they require the driver to take their attention away from obstacles immediately ahead, thereby creating a new problem. Blind spot detection works via a radar system that can detect objects within your various blind spots and alerts you by way of a clearly visible light typically located by the side mirrors. Some blind spot detection systems even include warning systems if you attempt to change lanes by vibrating the steering wheel. The tech has already proved effective, reducing incidents of blind spot related accidents by 14 percent.
While systems that detect oncoming obstacles or vehicles hidden in blind spots can effectively warn drivers in most cases, these measures simply aren’t enough in the most extreme cases. Emergency braking can stop a vehicle quickly enough to either prevent impact entirely or at least lessen its severity, but in older vehicles it hinges entirely on the driver’s reaction time. Automatic emergency braking removes the driver from the equation by autonomously engaging the emergency brake in cases where collision is unavoidable, while more advanced systems will also attempt to maneuver the vehicle in the last few seconds before impact.
While much simpler than other accident prevention technology, adaptive headlights are no less successful. They’ve already been reported to decrease the chances of head-on collisions by at least 10 percent, a figure which will only climb as they become the industry standard. Adaptive headlights automatically adjust their angle to match bends and turns in the road, giving you clear vision of oncoming vehicles or other obstacles waiting ahead in low-light conditions.
Perhaps the most controversial tech to be introduced to the world of automobiles, self-driving cars will eventually take control out of the hands of the driver and instead trust it to a computer. Though fully automated cars may still be a few years off, many of the aforementioned safety features incorporate autonomous systems. Lawmakers still have many questions to answer before self-driving cars become widespread, and the fact that they take decision-making away from drivers will prove a complex issue for traffic police, car accident attorneys, and insurers alike. That said, tests by Google, Uber, and other companies have so far shown autonomous cars to be surprisingly safe.
Whatever the future brings in terms of car accident prevention tech, trends are clearly moving towards automated features. While they raise important questions about safety and liability, what ultimately matters is how well they reduce the likelihood of accidents. Statistics have already proven the effectiveness of detection systems, driver warning features, and similar tech, so the industry is clearly moving in the right direction.