The days of fully automated cars may be just over the horizon, but in the meantime, new technologies are making driving safer than ever before. A slew of features now available on vehicles serve as accident prevention measures, unlike airbags and seatbelts, which only limit the damage an accident can cause. By focusing on prevention, the new technologies reduce the frequency and severity of auto accidents around the world.
The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute conducted research into emerging accident prevention technologies. Old technologies, like anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control, still play the greatest role in accident prevention, but new technologies are starting to make an impact. They discovered the five most important advances are:
Front Crash Prevention
Almost any car accident attorney will agree that most preventable accidents are caused when a driver inadvertently creeps too close to the vehicle in front of them. High speeds make stopping difficult, and an accident can become inevitable. Rear end collisions are a problem for both city and highway driving, and account for more than half of all vehicle accidents.
Front crash prevention technology integrates a series of sensors into the front of the vehicle to monitor the closure speed between vehicles, alerting the driver when they are too close to the car in front. The most advanced systems include proactive measures to assist drivers in avoiding a crash. These systems precharge the breaks, which amplifies the pressure the driver exerts when the peddle is pushed. Other systems actually active the breaks automatically.
Fatigue and distracted driving cause drivers to veer out of their lanes and increase the chances of a head-on collision with oncoming traffic. It only takes seconds of distraction for a driver to leave the lane and cause a catastrophic accident that requires a car accident attorney. Lane departures are most likely to happen at night, when it’s hardest to see markings on the road, and when drivers are mentally fatigued.
Lane departure technology senses lane markers and instantly alerts the driver when a vehicle starts to leave the lane. The most basic systems use physical warnings, usually a vibration in the steering wheel, while more advanced systems integrate audio-visual warnings that a driver is unlikely to miss. In the last few months, new systems hit the market that can take over the vehicle’s steering and braking systems and guide the vehicle back into the lane, overriding the driver’s control.
A car accident attorney may point to cell phones or alcohol as the leading cause of auto accidents in the United States, but a factor that gets overlooked is fatigue. Drivers fall asleep or doze at the wheel in alarming numbers, especially among professional semi-truck and delivery drivers. Fatigued drivers cause serious injuries or death, because they are unable to react quickly enough to an impending accident to slow their vehicle or avoid a head-on collision.
New vehicles can integrate fatigue warning systems into the windshield and steering wheel that track and analyze driver behavior. If the driver’s blink rate or blink duration change noticeably, the system can send an immediate audio or physical alert to wake up the driver. The systems also analyze steering patterns, and in conjunction with lane departure technology, they can warn the driver of danger before an accident occurs.
Blind Spot Support
No matter how a driver configures the windows in a car, there will always be a blind spot. In the United States, blind spots are responsible for millions of minor fender benders and serious injury cases that require a car accident attorney every year.
Cars with blind spot detection systems support drivers by alerting them when a vehicle enters the car’s blind spot. Visual or audio cues warn the driver not to change lanes or make a turn into the blind spot until they see the designated vehicle reappear.
For roughly 80 years, headlight technology changed very little. The lamps and bulbs changed, but there was no fundamental shift in design or headlight function.
Adaptive headlights address one of the most dangerous driving situations anyone can face: driving around a curve at night. Standard headlights shine in only one direction, and fail to illuminate the road ahead until an accident is unavoidable. Adaptive headlights pivot as the vehicle turns, giving drivers a preview of road and traffic conditions throughout the turn. Thus far, adaptive headlights have reduced accidents by up to 10 percent.
Preventing accidents saves lives, and reduces the need for a car accident attorney to claim compensation for damages or injuries. As technology continues to progress, drivers should expect to see more safety features become standard, until the government requires the inclusion of certain devices in all new vehicles.