Technology has advanced to make drivers on the road safer, but with as many as 1.3 million people still dying in road crashes every year, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, there’s still a lot of improvement to be made. From driving assistance apps to back-up sensors to virtual driving screens, drivers today have more options than ever to improve safety on the road.
On the road today
Lane changing on the road is one skill new drivers need to learn rather quickly, especially when they are preparing for upcoming permit practice tests. Lane Departure Warning systems can assist new drivers with this learned skill. With the use of a video camera, the Bosch Automotive Technology system helps drivers monitor lane changing (and weaving) and gets them in the habit of using blinker lights more often. When the system detects the driver’s vehicle is unintentionally moving out of the lane, it can warn drivers by a visual signal on the dashboard, an audible warning or even by vibrating the steering wheel.
One system that is becoming standard in all modern car are rear cameras. Aside from reducing the number of knocked down mailboxes and bumped shopping carts, they can also cut down on pedestrian injuries. As many as 292 people are killed and another 18,000 are injured each year due to drivers backing into them, mostly in driveways and parking lots. Rear cameras provide a window to one of your major blind spots, which is the area behind the bumper, including the area low to the ground. The device can reduce a driver’s blind zone up to 90 percent on average.
Parking has become much easier for some of today’s drivers, too. Some higher-end vehicles on the road today, like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and E-Class sedans, are already equipped with new technology that does the work for you. Ford has its own full-assist parking technology that should soon make it more affordable and more available. Ultrasonic sensors actually scan a parking lot for open spaces, then locate a suitable space and alerts the driver. The driver can then either get out and park the vehicle remotely or stay in the car and do so. A simple press of a button is all that is required to make the car automatically shift gears, accelerate, steer and brake into the open spot.
In the future
Though Google has created a media frenzy about experimental self-driving cars, Toyota is working to create a complete “smart car” as early as 2017. The Japanese auto maker is working on rolling out a full crash-prevention vehicle that eliminates blind spots. Crash-prevention vehicles would combine today’s driver-assist technology with more advanced technology, such as remote sensors using lasers and reflected light to provide a 360-degree view around a vehicle. Toyota also hopes to feature its Automated Highway Driving Assist, which includes radar cruise control, to keep a car a safe distance from other vehicles. When on cruise control, these smart cars will be able to sense situations ahead that would normally require full human control.
Years from now, drivers may be equipped with a windscreen that has virtual technology. Jaguar Land Rover is working on a virtual windscreen that enables drivers to see on-screen images of 3D lanes, vehicles and navigation icons to improve driving skills. The lifelike graphics can prepare new drivers as it also has a feature that simulates cones on the windscreen, allowing the driver to practice maneuvers in an empty parking lot. For race car drivers, the technology can record your previous lap and display a simulated version of your vehicle on the windscreen, allowing you to try and best your previous laps. Jaguar is also working to expand gesture control capabilities, so a driver can find a button, like stereo controls, without really looking.