It’s a fact that most people aren’t aware of, but car accidents have been steadily declining in a lot of parts of the country. Once you take factors such as drink and drug driving, the numbers get even more impressive too. So what’s the reason for this upturn in road safety? We’ll give you a clue: it’s not because we’re all better drivers. No, it’s because the cars we’re driving have more advanced safety features than ever before. Cars are better equipped to handle driving issues than ever before, even when compared to just the early noughties. Below, we take a look at the eleven safety features that helping to keep our roads clear of accidents.
We know what you’re thinking: “airbags, have they been around forever?” And yes, you’d be right, airbags have been around for quite a while, but not in the shape you see now. The standard airbag system was just two in the front; now, they’re in the front, rear, and side. That’s an extra level of protection that didn’t so demand new technologies as it did a bit of initiative from the car manufacturers. In any case, they’d done it, and now you’ll find plenty of airbags in even the most inexpensive of new vehicles.
What’s Behind You?
The blind spot has long been the bane of drivers. You’d have to look over your shoulder to see what was coming along on the side of your car, and it’s obvious to see why this wasn’t a perfect solution: it meant taking your eyes off the road, albeit only for a moment. Extra mirrors have helped to cure that problem, but there’s blind spot detection, a system that alerts the driver should a crash be coming. It’s made merging lanes a lot easier.
Getting Too Close
The rearview camera used to be standard on only the cool cars, but now you’ll see them on many vehicles. It’s a simple addition that has stopped many a minor crash occurring. If you’re trying to reverse into a tight spot, you no longer need to rely on your spacial awareness to ensure you don’t back into anything behind you. You just need to take a look at your dashboard, where you’ll have a monitor showing what’s behind you. This is especially useful around schools and supermarkets, where people may unexpectedly present themselves behind your vehicle.
Stay in your Lane
Lane departure warnings aren’t yet standard on vehicles, but they’re slowly being introduced, and will soon enough be standard. It works like this: when you’re on the highway, cruising along, and you begin to drift into another lane (or into the side ditch), you’ll receive a warning from your car that you’re about to abandon your lane. If you meant to, then no harm was done, but if you are drowsy and didn’t mean to, it might just save your life.
Time to React
Many people know they’re going to have a crash. The problem is that everything happens too fast and they don’t have time to react to the impending collision. It’s too late. However, there’s now a system that tries to help reduce this problem. It’s called the forward collision warning system, and it alerts the drivers with visual and audio cues that there’s trouble coming. Some car models take this idea even further. The Subaru Liberty features EyeSight® Driver Assist, an advanced system that monitors traffic and other variables that lie up ahead, and can even apply full braking force should it be required. It’s essentially removing humankind’s sluggish reactions and putting it in the hands of powerful technology.
Advanced Cruise Control
Like airbags, cruise control is a feature that has been around for a long time. But in the past it had little to do with safety; it was more concerned with making the driver’s journey as easy as possible. Now, cruise control has received an update, and it’s one that really helps improve a car’s safety. Instead of chugging along at a steady speed, adaptive cruise control systems change the speed depending on the proximity of the car that’s ahead.
A big majority of car crashes occur early in the morning and when the sun is setting, and it’s all to do with poor visibility. If you can’t completely see where you’re going, you’re more likely to have an accident; that’s common sense. Of course, every car can see what’s up ahead: they’re called headlights. Unfortunately, many people forget to turn them on or adjust them as needed. With responsive headlights, the brightness of the lights will change to match the visibility levels outside.
Awkward Parking Solved
Parallel parking might be more of an inconvenience rather than anything more insidious, but it’s clear to see how problems can arise from this awkward manoeuvre. Now, however, you don’t have to worry about backing into a car behind you, or maybe, more importantly, getting hit by other cars that have uninsured drivers. There are plenty of people who struggle to park, so why not let the car do it for you? With park assist, you pull up to your parking spot, and then the car will slide into position. Magic.
When You Need a Break
It’s very rarely the car or other drivers that cause accidents: it’s the driver. People get tired, then their heads drop, and before they know, they’re in harm’s way. With drowsiness detection systems, that threat is reduced. A camera in the dashboard follows the driver’s gaze; if it’s beginning to droop, the driver is alerted – and an accident potentially avoided.
Finally, let’s think about the old problem: mobile phones. Even getting one to make a handsfree call can be problematic. Cars are introducing completely hands-free commands, which you just speak into your dashboard. That means there’ll be no distractions as you awkwardly finagle your phone out of pocket.
With these features and much more on the way, we’ll hopefully see the accidents figured continue to drop!