These advanced features use an impressive array of technology to monitor active road conditions while the vehicle is at speed, ensuring the driver is aware of his or her surroundings. Sensing technologies, such as live cameras, radar and sonar, are used to keep the vehicle from dangerous situations. Some of these technologies may not be new, but the deployment in vehicles at a rapid growth certainly is.
Introduced in luxury flagship sedans, these active safety features are finding their way in more mainstream models. They are offered as part of a package at the top of the model range at a premium cost. Here are some of the latest safety features working their way into the market.
The most common active safety feature available in today’s vehicles is the backup camera. Found in many vehicles these days, the newly mandated feature uses a camera mounted on the decklid or liftgate pointed to give the driver a clearer view immediately behind him or her. The camera sends the live view to a screen in the center stack or on the mirror, along with guidance lines showing “danger zones” where the driver must pay attention while reversing the vehicle. The payoff is a better view of behind the vehicle that a rearview mirror might not pick up.
The rearview camera may not be enough to warn the driver of imminent danger behind him or her. Parking sensors often augment the rearview mirror, providing an audible alert in case the vehicle is close to an obstacle that may cause damage. Most vehicles offer parking sensors front and back, with the corner areas covered, so side objects are detected when trying to park or move the vehicle around in a tight area.
Blind Spot Monitors
Blind spot monitors use sensors in the rear quarters of the vehicle to warn the driver of vehicles in the blind spot. When the monitor senses a vehicle, it triggers a warning light on the side mirror or the door pillar for the driver to watch. If the turn signal goes on for a lane change, the warning turns to an audible warning along with the icon glowing to prevent a dangerous lane change. Once the vehicle clears your blind spot, you may proceed in your maneuver.
Adaptive Cruse Control/Forward Collision Alert
The same sensing technology is employed with two of the fastest growing features in today’s vehicles: Adaptive cruise control and forward collision alert. Both use frontal sensors – including radar and sonar – to measure ahead of the vehicle to pick up the next car. Adaptive cruise sets a distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. If the vehicle in front slows down, the sensor kicks in enabling either the throttle to lower or the brakes to be gently applied to match the vehicle’s speed. If you are coming up to close, the same sensors will trigger the brakes to be applied swiftly in hopes of stopping the vehicle before impact. The benefit to these features is to simply eliminate tailgating and maintain the proper distance between vehicles when traveling on highways.
Lane Departure Warning
To ensure the driver will be alert all of the time, one feature has proven to be affective in curbing driver fatigue. The lane departure warning system enables side sensors to read the lines between the traffic lane. If the vehicle wanders onto the line, an alert is emitted to the driver to return within the lines. Some systems go even further, applying the brakes or the steering to keep the vehicle inside the lane when a lane drift is detected.
There is a further enhancement to lane departure warning systems. Some vehicles now employ a lane keeping mechanism, using the steering to retain stability within the traffic lane. Once the sensors on each side establish the lane’s lines, the steering system “locks” the vehicle within the lane and keeps it there.
Of course, there are more features to name in which some of the flagship vehicles offer. Night vision helps in augment current lighting set-ups to help the driver see the unseen – such as deer on the road. You will also find enhanced versions of the active safety features in some vehicles that do much more than its intended purpose.
Safety has always been a strong consideration when choosing the right automobile. With new technology in active safety, you can have peace of mind when you drive down the road knowing these life-saving features are actively at work to keep you safe.