How Modern Technology is Making Driving Safer
The seeming lightning speed at which new technology is developed and made available in all aspects of our lives is truly amazing. Perhaps nowhere is this evolution more evident than in transportation and traffic safety.
While many technologies have been around for some time—such as seatbelts, airbags, daytime running lights, and anti-lock braking systems (ABS), automobile manufacturers continue to push the envelope to make our vehicles even safer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the premier authority in creating and enforcing rules related to vehicle safety technology.
We oftentimes take for granted all of the features present in our vehicles that enable us to drive from Point A to Point B safely. In the past several decades, automobile manufacturers have introduced a slew of technological measures to further improve safety. Some technology can automatically respond to certain situations while others provide drivers with a second set of eyes to help warn of potential dangers and improve reaction time.
Newer technology reduces our need for proactive and reactive thinking to enable us to focus more on the actual driving process. Among the two most impressive recent automated systems are automatic lights that turn on automatically in temporary darkness—such as while traveling through tunnels—and then shut off, to automatic parking systems which use multiple sensors to help detect obstacles and accurately calculate steering angles in order to improve parallel parking efforts.
Cruise control is almost a necessity for long drives; however, some people may get a bit complacent while behind the wheel. Adaptive cruise control represents the next generation of this technology that can sense vehicles in front and adjust the one’s speed to maintain a safe following distance. In some cases, these systems utilize emergency braking to help slow the vehicle if necessary to prevent an accident.
Speaking of adaptive technology, adaptive headlights have also been integral in improving driving safety. This technology automatically helps illuminate curved roads to improve visibility.
Enhanced braking power
Adding to the safety of ABS are dynamic braking systems (DBS) and crash-imminent braking (CIB). These work by supplementing the driver’s braking efforts to avoid an accident or taking over completely if the driver takes no action to avert a crash.
These systems were created in response to the increasing number of rear-end collisions. In fact, in 2015, approximately one-third of all police-reported automobile accidents involved a rear-end collision.
An extra set of eyes
Avoiding obstacles is a big concern from behind the wheel. Backup alarms and backup cameras help drivers see what is behind their vehicles. Blind spot technology and all-around vehicle sensors alert drivers to vehicles and other potential obstacles they may not see. These technologies have been so well-received and helpful in improving roadway safety that backup cameras are now a mandatory feature on all new passenger vehicles.
Maintaining vehicle control
These innovations help drivers maintain control of their vehicles. Technology in this group includes electronic stability control (ESC), lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and forward collision warning systems. These technologies, essentially, compensate for a driver who may not be devoting his/her full attention to the road.
Voice controls have been critical in improving driving safety. From dialing a number in one’s address book to hands-free phone calls to using GPS to help navigate to a destination, Bluetooth technology has reduced the potential danger of common distracting tasks, thus improving roadway safety.
The bottom line
Despite the plethora of new and increasingly sophisticated technologies which seek to improve vehicular safety, perhaps the most important factor to consider is that simply because these technologies exist, nothing completely replaces driver awareness, driving at safe speeds, and adhering to all traffic laws.
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