According to an investigation by US DOT (United States Department of Transportation), approximately 94 percent of all car accidents are caused by human error. The remaining two percent occur as a result of mechanical failure. Improved auto safety helps.
This means a considerable number of all driving-related deaths and most traffic accidents are preventable.
Fortunately, vehicles have become much safer. Lane departure, forward collision, rear cross traffic and blind spot warning, together with automatic emergency braking, are features currently used, as reported by the NHTSA.
Some emerging vehicle safety technologies under development or improvement:
1. Connected Vehicles technology – cars that “talk” to each other
A communication system allows vehicles to “talk” to each other wirelessly using a short-range communication network. Vehicles warn drivers of potential hazards, particularly those not easily perceived like weather changes and distance, as well as other cars or objects that may obstruct the driver’s visibility.
For example, the driver will be alerted if the car is on the way to collide with another vehicle at a four-way intersection or when a car stops suddenly meters ahead. Apart from saving lives, preventing accidents helps reduce car insurance premiums for owners.
2. 360-degree view monitors
This technology is a parking assistance system with four cameras positioned around the car, which allow the driver to have a 360-degree view of objects and people near the vehicle. The images projected by the four cameras are displayed on the touch screen, after special software interprets and binds the images to be shown in real time.
A “bird’s eye view” shows a top view around the car. The remaining cameras show areas behind, around and in front of the car at ground level. Newer technology is being developed to allow the adjustment of camera angles for additional auto safety.
3. Infrared and night-vision technology
Night vision can help increase situational awareness when low light conditions make it difficult to see the road. These systems basically extend the driver’s perception beyond the limited range of headlights through the use of thermal imaging cameras, infrared lights, headlamps and other technologies.
Night vision systems rely on imaging cameras to detect thermal radiation. Since thermal imaging cameras essentially see heat, it’s easy for them to tell the difference between a warm object, such as a pedestrian, and a cooler object, like a road.
4. Pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking (AEB)
Autonomous systems allow detecting pedestrians on the road and activating the brakes automatically. Information is processed from radar on the rear bumper and a camera on the windshield to distinguish people from other elements on the road.
If the system detects an imminent collision with a pedestrian, it emits an audible and a visual alarm on the dashboard. If the driver is unresponsive, the system reduces the time required to apply the brakes. If there is still no response from the driver, the brakes automatically engage to slow down.
5. Vehicle-to-infrastructure technology (speed reduction alerts, weather alerts)
V2I technology is intended to record information such as traffic congestion, speed reduction or hazards caused by weather. This data is transmitted wirelessly and informs drivers of potential dangers, improving their safety. V2I technology is also used in intelligent traffic signs to indicate traffic conditions.
In addition, V2I technology can estimate arrival time with greater precision. However, some possible drawbacks might include excessive reliance on technology or system malfunctions under inclement weather conditions.
6. External airbags
Located inside the vehicle’s side cross members, an airbag-equipped with sensors that monitor what’s occurring in the car’s environment has the ability to predict if there will be an impact. In the event of an imminent collision, it will activate in no more than 150 milliseconds.
According to their developers, this innovative external airbag can help reduce the severity of occupant injuries up to 40 percent. Extensive testing still needs to be done to guarantee the airbag system activates within in the right time frame consistently and does not go off from misleading or false readings
7. Voice control systems
Besides assisting the driver as a personal assistant would, a voice interface can help to avoid accidents. Vehicles with a built-in Alexa feature are a great example of how voice control technology is being efficiently implemented at the moment.
In fact, when the system works well it can be very advantageous for passengers and drivers but if it malfunctions, it can become a dangerous distraction for those at the wheel. Manufacturers´ main goal is to prevent this from happening and use this technology to safeguard the user instead.
8. Augmented reality windshields
Still in development, augmented reality on car windshields aims to project a giant screen that shows a series of graphics and animations. Its purpose is to highlight the dangers of the road detected and increase auto safety. It monitors car systems, identifying pedestrian crossings or lanes and reading traffic signals while trying to replace other devices that tend to distract drivers.
Although it’s in early stages, some vehicles have already started using a similar technology successfully by presenting key vehicle data —speed, gear position and directions — on their windshields.
Content provided by The Weekly Driver News Service and additional news sources.