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Safety 1st: How Your Vehicle Is Looking Out For You

Although you may not realize it, there are many regulations and laws that vehicle manufacturers follow to keep you safe. In this report, we’re giving you a behind the scenes look into many crucial safety features on modern cars. Here is a list of the most important features added in the auto industry that put safety first:


Collision Prevention Safety


Forward-Collision Warning (FCW):


This feature provides a visual or audio indication that a front end collision is about to occur. This system still relies on the driver to act and prevent the collision.



Electronic Stability Control (ESC):


This feature detects a lack of traction under extreme conditions like snow or heavy rain. It will help prevent the vehicle from spinning out when traction is limited.


Braking Safety


Automatic Braking System / Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB):


This is one of the most revolutionary safety advancements in modern vehicles. AEB detects other vehicles or objects in front of you and reacts accordingly. It will alert you first with a beeping noise and some visual indicator. If you fail to brake hard enough or fast enough, the system will brake for you.


Camera Safety


Cabin Camera:


This feature lets you see what’s going on behind you within the vehicle. When you have other passengers in the back and you are driving, turning around is tempting, but not a safe option. The cabin camera lets you see what’s going on behind you and keep your eyes forward.


360-Degree Camera Parking:


Cameras on vehicles are not a new feature, but the 360-degree camera that removes all blind spots is one. This feature makes backing out of the driveway or a parking spot so much easier.


Communication Safety



Adaptive Headlights:


This new feature allows your headlights to move back and forth when going around turns. This opens your field of view in the dark letting you react quicker. On some vehicles, when you are going up or down a hill, the lights will go up or down to adjust.



Blind Spot Warning System:


Dealing with blind spots are some of the hardest things to do when driving. For those who have much larger vehicles, it is impossible to see everything without a camera. This feature will make a beeping noise and show some visual indicator that another vehicle or object is in your blind spot.


Drowsiness Detector:


Trying to keep your concentration and maintain focus after driving for long hours can be incredibly difficult. A drowsiness detector takes data from your car, like how long you’ve been driving or how often you are drifting out of your lane, and lets you know if you should take a break.


Lane-Change Warning:


A very prevalent issues when driving is the existence of blind spots. The lane-change warning feature compensates for these blind spots by indicating if there are any vehicles out of your field of vision. This feature really helps reveal what you cannot see when you look over your shoulder to switch lanes.


Parking Assist:


Parking Assist is another crucial feature for drivers to prevent collisions by providing “another pair of eyes.” Whether you are backing into a parking spot or trying to parallel park, parking assist will do it for you. There is no need to worry about lining up the wheels of your car to parallel park or getting the angle right to back into the spot.



Pedestrian Detection:


It can be really difficult to notice pedestrians when you are distracted by something in your car or by other vehicles. Pedestrian deaths have increased in recent years because people are constantly looking down at their phones instead of at the road. Pedestrian detection will alert you if there is an object in front of you, similar to a forward-collision warning system, and some systems may even put on the brakes.


Cruise Control Safety


Adaptive Cruise Control:


This feature monitors the distance between your car and the car in front of you. It maintains a safe distance for you, making cruise control even easier. There are even some vehicles that can stop and bring the car back up to speed. Remember that cruise control is supposed to assist driving, not do the driving. This feature still requires active input from the driver to prevent accidents and crashes.


Features That Are So Crucial For Your Safety That They Cannot Go Unmentioned


Airbags


Today’s airbags are far more advanced than those of only twenty-five years ago. New innovations have led to airbag systems that detect if an individual is in a seat, the weight of the individual, the position of the seat, and if the passenger is a small child. Originally, airbags were only for the driver and passenger in the steering wheel and the dashboard. These airbags have saved countless lives by preventing the horrible consequences of high velocity impact upon the upper body and head. Nowadays, side airbags, the airbags on the periphery of the car, are standard. These airbags are throughout the car so that front row passenger and backseat passengers can have enhanced protection during an accident. These airbags are smaller and pop out of the back of seats or from the side panelling of the vehicle. However, since these airbags do not counter a direct collision like they do in the front row, the heads of passengers can be more at risk. New standards have been put in place to compensate for these factors and provide ample protection to passengers in back row seats. Additional innovations have placed airbags on the sides of cars to not only protect the passenger from an impact but to keep the passenger safe from debris, which could be moving very quickly from another vehicle or during a rollover crash for example. Passengers, especially during rollover crashes, will likely be thrown into windows with such force that an ejection can occur. Some airbags last longer than traditional ones to compensate for this and prevent the ejection of passengers.


Anti-lock Brakes


While anti-lock brakes are not a recent innovation, they are still extremely crucial to safe driving. Anti-lock brakes prevent your wheels from locking up after you have applied the brakes. If you are in the snow for example, and start to slide, you will naturally apply the brakes to halt your forward movement. Before this feature, your wheels would lock and friction was the only force that was going to stop you, not a viable option with other traffic around or if your on a hill. Anti-lock prevents your brakes from locking and will maximize the braking force that your wheels can provide. Additionally, the driver is still able to maintain control of the direction of the vehicle while this is happening. Anti-lock brakes can create a pulsating feeling throughout the entire car which can startle people who have never been in these situations. All the driver has to do is keep their foot pushed down on the brake, steer to keep on the road, and let the system do the work.




Safety-belt


Seat belts are arguably the most important safety innovation ever since the invention of automobiles. They keep your torso in place during a collision and will prevent the deadly consequences of ejection. Today’s seat belts use pretensioners to instantaneously retract when there is any slack during a collision. Seat belts also keep passengers facing forward and in the proper position that all of the other features, like airbags, were designed for. To prevent the force from the seat belt from harming the chest of the passenger, seat belts have force limiters. Force limiters provide a slight bit of slack to compensate for the tension created by the pretensioners. Furthermore, there are inflatable seat belts to further reduce the pressure on passengers like the elderly or small children. Some seat belts can also be adjusted to reach smaller passengers or compensate for the higher shoulders of taller passengers. Many seat belts have a connection into the ceiling of the vehicle to allow for the placement of child seats that require more space.


Tire Pressure Monitor


Underinflated tires are a disaster waiting to happen. Luckily, tire pressure is now monitored by the vehicle and an indicator will let you know when you need to pump them back up. It is best to do this immediately because an underinflated tire wears down much faster and could even blowout. There are also specially designed tires that run for up to fifty miles after a puncture often found in the trunk of a car, but this should only be used in an emergency. Pump them up or get them replaced!


On-Star System


This system, and others like it, monitors the location of the vehicle and will alert emergency services if the vehicle is stolen or broken into. Some systems are able to turn the car off when appropriate to prevent high speed pursuits or collisions. This system enhances standard anti-theft features. The On-Star system not only works as an anti-crime support, but will also contact emergency services if the airbags go off and an accident has been detected. Emergency services will be immediately notified, ultimately saving lives when passengers are unable to contact emergency services themselves due to their injuries.


The future of driver safety systems 


While we have already made tremendous progress in terms of vehicle safety, we still have much more work done in order to eliminate automobile-related injuries and fatalities. Luckily, there are many companies and startups across the world working to create innovative solutions to make the roads safer. One such start-up that is putting safety first is SafeMode


SafeMode is a fleet mobility/autonomous vehicle company working on taking the human factor completely out of driving. SafeMode has a proven incentive-based system that is shown to permanently change driver behavior. The app gives feedback to users that tells them what they are doing wrong and how they can improve. While all of this is going on, SafeMode is creating driver centered profiles on those around them. Once they have a big enough database, they will be able to apply this information to autonomous vehicles and teach them to predict rather than react to negative events around them. 


SafeMode’s work provides hope of creating a future without car accidents and fatalities. 


Sources:

Discussion of safety features from Consumer Reports (https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/04/guide-to-safety-features/index.htm)

Image Source: https://www.pakwheels.com/blog/understanding-cars-braking-system/

Image Source: https://www.accurate-autobody.com/2017/02/best-safety-features-in-cars/

All safety features from USAA (https://www.usaa.com/inet/wc/advice-auto-a-guide-to-the-latest-auto-safety-features?akredirect=true).

Image Source: https://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2015/11/new-iihs-ratings-to-push-adaptive-headlights-into-the-spotlight.html

Image Source: https://fullerisford.wordpress.com/tag/active-park-assist/

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