Avoiding a Car Crash

Manufacturers are building cars with systems that can help you avoid or mitigate a crash in all sorts of situations, such as closing in on another car too quickly, changing lanes into an unseen car in a blind spot, or simply backing out in a busy parking lot.

Those crash prevention systems include forward collision warning, auto-braking, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, blind spot detection, and adaptive headlights. Lets explore each of these features individually.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit organization funded by insurers and dedicated to minimizing dangers on the roads, has released a study revealing that vehicles equipped with forward collision avoidance systems show a significant reduction in damage from crashes.

Forward collision warning and auto-braking

Forward collision warning systems use cameras, laser beams or radar to scan the road ahead and alert the driver to any objects in the road ahead.

If the system detects an object which the driver does not appear to be reacting to it, the system itself takes action. Some systems will sound an alert and prepare the brakes for full stopping power, others will apply the brakes automatically to prevent a crash.

Lane departure warning and prevention

Lane departure warning systems use cameras to detect the lane painting of the road. If the driver moves outside of the marked lanes without using the turn signal, an alert appears.

Typically this is a visual alert combined with an audible tone or sterring-wheel vibration. Some lane departure prevention systems takes one step further by gently steering the vehicle back into its lane. The driver can bypass this system at any point by turning the steering wheel.

Blind spot detection

Active blind spot detection systems, or blind spot monitoring systems, track vehicles and other objects - including persons or animals - as they approach the driver’s blind spot.

A visual alert is shown when another vehicle is currently occupying the blind spot. If the driver switches the turn signal to move into the occupied area, an audible tone or vibration is triggered. Blind spot intervention systems take this a step further by preventing the driver from moving into the space occupied by another vehicle.

Adaptive headlights

Unlike standard headlights - which always point straight ahead - adaptive headlights react to speed and direction. The headlight system can move the beams up to 15 degrees in either direction.

This is certainly helpful when driving around a corner at night, because allows the driver to see objects in the road ahead which would be invisible with standard beams. Some vehicles combine these with cornering lights that can provide up to 80 degrees of additional side view when the car is moving slower than 25 mph (for example, in a parking lot).

Regardless of any technology used, a defensive driver, obeying the laws, and having knowledge about emergency situations is always the best option.

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