Collision-Avoidance Systems Are Changing the Look of Car Safety

Not so long ago, it would have seemed incredible that your car would be able to”see” other vehicles or pedestrians, anticipate collisions, and automatically apply the brakes or take corrective steering actions. But more and more cars can do this to some degree, thanks to a growing list of collision-avoidance systems.

Some of these capacities, such as forward-collision warning systems, have been around for a couple of years, mostly on high-end luxury cars. Others, like steering aid, are just getting ready for prime time. The good news is that the collision-avoidance systems are getting better and are spreading to mainstream automobiles.

The potential for these systems is so great that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has added collision-avoidance system testing to its suite of safety evaluations. The IIHS has determined that some of those collision-avoidance systems could prevent or mitigate many crashes. Now, to acquire top overall security scores from the IIHS, a car needs to have a forward-collision warning system with automatic braking. Moreover, any auto body repair victoria brake system must function effectively in formal track tests the IIHS conducts. Visit the IIHS site for test results on individual models.

The federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also on board, with an eye on making some collision-avoidance systems mandatory. NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings note which systems are offered on automobiles safety they crash-test. Their presence doesn’t influence the Star ratings yet, however.

The expense of collision-avoidance systems can still be an obstacle. Most advanced systems now come only as part of a large choices package or on a model’s higher, more expensive trim versions. Jumping into the trim line at which the security goodies are offered can add thousands of dollars to a vehicle’s price.


Lasers, Radar, and Cameras

These cutting-edge active security systems rely on a number of sensors, cameras, lasers, and short- and long-range radar. They monitor what’s going on around the automobile –vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and even road signs–as well as the vehicle itself. Inputs are processed by computers, which then prompt some action from the vehicle or the driver. Those activities may start with attention-grabbers, such as a beep, a flashing dashboard icon, a tug from the seatbelt, or a vibration in the seat or steering wheel. If the driver doesn’t respond, the more advanced systems then employ partial or full braking pressure.

In our ongoing evaluations, we’ve found that there is a fine line between a useful electronic co-pilot and a computerized backseat driver. If a warning system emits a lot of inappropriate alerts, then there is a growing temptation to switch it off.

Not every system on the market today is top-notch. The IIHS has found that some autonomous braking systems are more effective than others. But they conclude there is a net benefit no matter.

A 2009 study conducted by the IIHS found a 7 percent reduction in crashes for vehicles using a basic forward-collision warning system and a 14 to 15 percent reduction for people who have automatic braking.

“Even in the cases where these systems failed to prevent a crash, if there is automatic braking going on, or when the driver does brake in response to a warning, that crash is going to be less acute than it would have been otherwise,” says David Zuby, chief research officer at the IIHS.

In the long run, these systems can do lots of good in preventing crashes from happening in the first place. However, it’s important for drivers to realize that none of these aids reduces the need to remain alert.

Current Active Safety Systems

Manufacturers routinely use unique, marketing-friendly titles for their various systems. This makes it confusing to know the system’s full capabilities. When you’re looking for a new car, be certain you ask what the security feature does. For a detailed listing of the available systems for every manufacturer, visit our free car body shop victoria Safety Hub.


Rear cross-traffic alert

Cross-traffic alert warns you of traffic approaching from the sides as you reverse. The warning usually contains an audible chirp along with a visual cue in either the outside mirror or the back camera’s dash display. The more advanced systems can also pick out bikes and pedestrians.


An illustration of how collision-avoidance systems works


Forward-collision warning (FCW) and auto brake

Also called a pre-crash warning system, this standalone or combined radar-, laser-, or camera-based systems warn drivers of an impending crash by using visual, auditory, or physical cues. Most automobile systems also pre-charge the brakes and take other actions to prepare for impact. If the driver ignores the warnings, systems with autonomous braking, brake, will apply partial or full braking force. They may be busy at anywhere from walking into highway speeds.


Blind Spot Alert


Blind-spot monitoring (BSM) and assist

A blind-spot monitoring system uses radars or cameras to scan the areas beside and behind you, searching for vehicles entering or lurking on your blind zones. When such a vehicle is detected, an illuminated icon appears in or near the appropriate side-view mirror. If you sign a turn as a vehicle is in your blind zone, some systems send a stronger alert, such as a blinking light or louder chirps. More advanced systems help keep you on your lane by applying the brakes on one side of the vehicle.


Pedestrian detection and braking

Pioneered by Volvo and now provided by others, pedestrian detection can recognize a person straying into a vehicle’s path. Some will automatically apply the brakes, if needed, sometimes partially and sometimes to a complete stop. Some newer systems can also detect bicyclists.


Adaptive headlights

As you turn the steering wheel adaptive headlights will swivel, which will help illuminate the street when going around curves. A 2014 IIHS study found that adaptive headlights improved drivers’ reaction times by about a third of a second. That could be just enough to prevent, say, hitting a parked victoria car paint shop on a dark street.

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