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In the last few years, the number of car safety systems has significantly increased, but talk of hybrids and self-driving cars has dominated headlines. Several of the newest systems introduced by various manufacturers are driver assist technologies and they are making a major positive impact on road and driver safety.
While most manufacturers have driver assist systems that operate differently, the main goal of all of the systems is the same -- monitor, react and protect. Here’s a look at some of the latest safety tech available in vehicles and an overview of how some of them work.
Blind spots can be a big problem on the road and blind-spot monitoring systems help drivers avoid car accidents related to blind spots. Different automakers have different ways of detecting objects and vehicles in blind spots, but all blind-spot monitoring systems notify drivers when other cars are in a driver’s blind spot. Various notifications are lights on the exterior mirrors, a talking assistant or an audible cue.
When equipped with lane departure warning and lane assist, a vehicle’s radars, sensors or cameras detect when the vehicle is drifting out of its lane. When the system notices drifting, it warns the driver. Some manufacturers have systems that notify the driver with a vibrating seat or steering wheel and other systems make an with audible noise.
Additionally, if the drifting is becoming problematic and the driver does not respond to the system’s notifications, the system can actually guide the vehicle back into the proper lane. Some systems guide the vehicle via braking on one side of the vehicle or with by power steering.
Adaptive cruise control is one of the most advanced driver assist systems. When engaged, this system sets the speed a car travels based on the speed of the car it is following. When the system detects the car in front is slowing or stopping, the vehicle notifies the driver and will apply brake pressure to slow the car down. If the driver has not applied enough brake pressure after being notified, the car will continue to apply the brakes as necessary to avoid an accident.
Both of these features make parking and exiting a parking spot safer and easier for the driver. The rearview monitoring system watches and notifies drivers about objects in motion behind the vehicle when in reverse.
The park assist features notifies drivers when they are in close proximity of objects when parking, and some manufacturers can actually help guide a vehicle into a parallel parking spot.
Mercedes-Benz is one of the leading manufacturers when it comes to safety. In addition to all of the driver assist systems mentioned above, Mercedes-Benz goes above and beyond to equip their vehicles with safety tech.
Mercedes-Benz’s PRE-SAFE system senses when an accident might be imminent and prepares the car for an impact. If the vehicle’s sensors detect conditions that could cause an accident (skidding, swerving), the vehicle will tighten the front seat belts, adjust the front head restraints, and can even close the windows and sunroof to better prepare the occupants for more effective results from the restraint systems.
Based on a study by the American Automobile Association, there are an average of 328,000 car accidents that can be attributed to driver fatigue each year. So to try to combat drowsy drivers, Mercedes-Benz has an available Attention Assist system that can detect driver fatigue based on driver habits and steering. If the system senses that the driver may be suffering from driving fatigue, it will notify the driver and encourage them to stop and rest. Other companies like Nissan have also adapted this tech.
In addition to manufacturers creating their own safety systems, the NHTSA and the U.S. Department of Transportation also create safety systems. One of the biggest projects that the NHTSA and U.S. DOT are working on is one communications system that would connect all new cars.
According to a press release from the NHTSA, the U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed a rule that “... would advance the deployment of connected vehicle technologies throughout the U.S. light vehicle fleet. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles, enabling a multitude of new crash-avoidance applications that, once fully deployed, could prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes every year by helping vehicles “talk” to each other.”
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