Self-driving cars are in the news, and though it might be a few years before you buy one, the technology developed for autonomous vehicles is making driving safer right now. New cars come with a range of safety features; depending on the manufacturer, they might be fitted as standard or be an optional extra. Rory Angold, Executive Vice President at United Car Care, shares safety features you should be aware of when choosing a new car.
Autonomous Emergency Braking
Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) uses cameras, radar or lasers to detect if there is another vehicle or object in front and notifies the driver. If the driver doesn't take action, then the car brakes automatically. An increasing number of cars have this fitted as standard, and it may result in an estimated 40% fewer collisions that cause whiplash. The sensors are often in the bumper, and accidental damage can lead to more expensive repair bills, but AEB can also save money by bringing down insurance premiums.
Cyclist, Pedestrian, or Reverse AEB is a more sensitive version of the same technology that can detect smaller obstacles. Reverse AEB is fitted into the rear bumper or tailgate and provides a warning and automatic braking if a driver is about to back into another car. The feature is particularly useful if you're backing out of a tight parking space.
Adaptive/Autonomous Cruise Control
Adaptive/Autonomous Cruise Control (ACC) is an addition to cruise control on many new cars. It monitors the speed of the vehicle in front of you and reduces your rate to match, without coming out of cruise control. Radar or camera-based systems are more reliable than laser-based ACC, as lasers can be affected by weather such as heavy rain and spray.
Blind Spot Information System
Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), manufactured by Volvo and adopted by Ford, Mazda, and Mitsubishi, uses side-mounted cameras to warn a driver about obstacles in the blind spots. Depending on the system, this can inform you of barriers to either side when you reverse and give an alert if there is a vehicle in the blind spot when you change lanes. Although it's possible to set up door mirrors to eliminate blind spots, BLIS acts as an additional safeguard when switching lanes in heavy traffic.
Lane Keep Assist
Lane Keep Assist (LKA) tracks the painted lines on the road and gives an alert (either a vibration or sound) if you drift out of your lane. If you turn the wheel, either to change path deliberately or to correct your course, the system deactivates. If you don't respond, it will take control of the steering by keeping you in the lane. The LKA safety feature only works when there are clear markings on the road, but not when there's too much information on the road surface, such as at complex junctions. However, it's primarily designed to take over when a driver falls asleep on a tedious journey; that's unlikely to happen if you're negotiating a city-center intersection.
None of these systems will guarantee that every journey will be safe, and they still require a driver who is skilled and alert. However, they all provide additional safeguards and may make the difference between a small scratch and a severe accident.
About Rory Angold
Rory Angold has spent the past 20 years assuming leadership and executive positions within various companies. Mr. Angold worked with Zurich North America, managing and more importantly developing field teams in California, Nevada, Hawaii, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. His goal was to connect with automotive dealers and industry partners to help them increase their wealth while managing risks and protecting their assets. Mr. Angold is now serving as Executive Vice President at United Car Care, a company that offers vehicle service contracts that provide reliable protection at an affordable cost.