Collision-Avoidance Systems Are Changing the Look of Car Safety

Not so long ago, it would have seemed incredible that your car would be able to”see” other vehicles or pedestrians, anticipate 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 capacities, 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 automobile safety.

The potential for these systems is so great that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has added collision-avoidance system testing to its suite of safety evaluations. The IIHS has determined that some of these collision-avoidance systems could prevent or mitigate many crashes. Now, to acquire top general security scores from the IIHS, a car should have a forward-collision warning system with automatic braking. In addition, any auto body shop victoria brake system must function effectively in formal track tests the IIHS conducts. Visit the IIHS site for test results on individual models.

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

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


Lasers, Radar, and Cameras

These cutting-edge active security systems rely on a number of sensors, cameras, lasers, and short- and long-range radar. They monitor what’s happening around the vehicle–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 employ partial or full braking force.

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

Not every system on the market today is top-notch. The IIHS has discovered that some autonomous braking systems are more powerful than others. But they conclude there’s a net benefit no matter.

A 2009 study conducted by the IIHS found a 7 percent decrease in crashes for vehicles using a basic forward-collision warning system, and a 14 to 15 percent reduction for people with automatic braking.

“Even in the cases where these systems failed to prevent a crash, 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 would have been otherwise,” says David Zuby, chief research officer at the IIHS.

In the end, auto body repair kingston these systems can do lots of good in preventing crashes from occurring in the first place. But it’s important for drivers to realize that none of these aids reduces the need to remain alert.


Current Active Safety Systems

Manufacturers routinely use exceptional, marketing-friendly titles for their various systems. This makes it confusing to know the system’s full capabilities. When you’re shopping for a new car, be sure to ask what the safety feature does. For a comprehensive 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 you reverse. The warning usually contains an audible chirp along with a visual cue in either the outside mirror or the rear camera’s dash display. The more advanced systems can also select out bicycles and pedestrians.

An illustration of how collision-avoidance systems works


Forward-collision warning (FCW) and auto brake

Also referred to as a pre-crash warning system, this stand-alone or combined radar-, laser-, or camera-based systems warn drivers of an impending collision by using visual, auditory, or physical cues. Most vehicle 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 auto brake, will apply partial or full braking force. They can be active at anywhere from walking to highway speeds.


Blind Spot Alert

Blind-spot tracking (BSM) and help A blind-spot monitoring system uses radars or cameras to scan the areas beside and behind you, looking for vehicles entering or lurking in 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 vehicle is in your blind zone, some systems send a more powerful alert, such as a blinking light or louder chirps. More advanced systems help keep you in your lane by applying the auto body shop kingston brakes on one side of the vehicle.


Pedestrian detection and braking

Pioneered by Volvo and now offered by others, pedestrian detection can recognize a person straying to a vehicle’s path. Some will automatically apply the brakes, if necessary, sometimes partially and sometimes to a complete halt. 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 could be just enough to avoid, say, hitting a parked car on a dark street.

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