There were 6.5 million police-reported crashes in 2017, resulting in 37,133 fatalities and 2.7 million injuries. In Georgia alone where Classic Collision has 24 locations, there were 116,458 injury accidents and 1,179 fatal accidents (harrybrownlaw.com, Georgia Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics, 2013). What is the auto industry doing to help reduce accidents and injuries? The answer is a lot! This article will help you decide if you would benefit from owning a newer car that offers increased safety features.
Consumer Report recently conducted a survey of 72,000 vehicles. The data showed that 57% of the participants reported that at least one advanced driver-assist feature in their vehicle had kept them from getting into a crash, (‘Car Safety Systems That Could Save Your Life’, consumerreports.org). Accidents include things like hitting a deer, a pedestrian and of course another car.
We are driving in what could be called the Second Generation of Safety in Cars. The introduction of more advanced sensors and faster computers has allowed engineers to expand the capabilities of Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) and have increased in availability since 2010. The First Generation of Safety in Cars started around 1952 with the invention of front air bags (John W. Hetrick) and retractable seat belts for cars in 1959 (Dr. C. Hunter Shelden). This generation of safety development lasted until 2003 and includes features such as adaptive headlights, electronic stability control systems, anti-lock brakes, rear view cameras and the LATCH child safety seat belt system.
This Second Generation of Safety in Cars Era started around 2010 and includes
- Blind Spot Detection (BSD) system
- Forward Collision Warning (FCW) system
- Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system
- Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking (PAEB) system
- Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) systems
Blind Spot Detection (BSD) uses driver assistance technology to sense cars coming up in your blind spot behind or alongside you, and if your turn signal is on, it alerts you not to change lanes. Even if your signal isn’t on the light on the mirror glows but doesn’t flash or sound the audible alert. Usually this feature comes in a package and also includes adaptive cruise control, rear and front parking sonar, the rear traffic alert and parking cameras. If your system has BSD side sensors you can have assistance finding an appropriate parallel parking space and then park the car! This safety package often times pays for itself by assisting in avoiding an accident and keeping your car out of the auto body shop.
Forward Collision Warning (FCW) systems can alert you of an impending collision with a slower moving or stationary car in front of you. It is designed to give you time to brake or swerve to avoid an accident. Warnings like sounds, vibrations or a quick brake pulse are used. The system alone will not automatically brake for you. It is important to always pay attention to the road ahead. Rear-end accidents are the most common crash in the U.S.
Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems alert a driver to an imminent crash and help them use the maximum breaking capacity of the car. It is mostly designed to activate at highway speeds as long as the forward collision warning sensors are able to detect the danger ahead. Newer systems have the capacity to operate at slower speeds for city driving. Be aware that not all AEB features are able to bring your car to a full stop. We also found that some manufacturers even make models featuring more than one AEB system! There are 20+ manufacturers who offer this feature so it is widely available.
Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking (PAEB) system is an emerging technology that is a crash avoidance system. Radar sensors and/or cameras on the front of the car automatically apply or supplement the brakes if the system determines a pedestrian is in imminent danger of being hit by the vehicle. NHTSA has not set performance specification for this technology but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered in your safety package as it can help save lives and prevent accidents.
Lane Keeping Warning (LKW) and Lane Departure Assist (LDA) systems, just like the PAEB system use forward facing cameras to monitor the lane lines around your car and provide visual, audible and/or tactile warnings to avoid accidents. The steering wheel or seat might vibrate or automatic steering and/or braking might occur, depending on the system you have and what is needed.
In Consumer Report’s recent survey, Hyundai, Cadillac, Buick, Jeep, Genesis, Tesla and Kia received the highest marks for the most satisfying Lane Keeping and Departure systems. The least satisfying systems were Infinity, Porsche, Audi, Lincoln Acura and Honda. It is good to note that these systems do not work if your turning signal is activated.
Which safety features are the must-haves for you? Take into account where you live, driving patterns, amount of traffic you drive in, abilities (or limitations) and that will help guide your decision. Try to have an idea of what you want your next car to provide for you with regard to safety, do a little research beforehand and you will make your best decision.