New Technology to Keep You Safer in Your Car

Posted on Apr 1 , 2013
New technologies could lead to safer roadways in the near future and keep you safer in your car. The auto industry has been working to develop alerts, sensors and override mechanisms that will reduce the number of car crashes that plague Americans each year. This summer, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a study that intelligent braking (technology that automatically stops or slows a car if a driver does not act) is helping to keep people from crashing. Many urban automobile accidents occur at very low speeds, yet only about 40 percent of people brake before a collision, according to Mukul Verma, a consultant and former top safety expert at General Motors. The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), a research body of the IIHS, recently reviewed insurance claims for a Volvo midsized SUV which has City Safety, a standard feature designed to help a driver avoid rear-end collision in heavy traffic. HLDI found that property damage liability claims were reduced by 27 percent for the Volvo when compared with claims on other midsize SUVs. Bodily injury liability claims were cut in half. Several other automakers offer similar collision avoidance systems. A basic system includes:
  • Automatic braking. The car will automatically brake if the driver fails to react in time when the vehicle in front slows down or stops. Generally, these systems have been designed to prevent rear end collisions at lower speeds.
  • Seat belt “pretighteners”. This aspect of the safety system keeps a seat belt from spooling out before it secures a person into his/her seat. These advanced safety belts work together with the brakes.
Additional advanced safety features are also being developed and are already available from many automakers. These new features will alert drivers when they are leaving their lanes and indicate whether something is in a vehicle’s blind spot. In addition, some auto companies are developing electronic sensors which detect when a pedestrian or animal is in front of the car and will apply the brakes, if the driver does not react in time. The IIHS has estimated that crash-avoidance features have the potential to prevent or lessen the impact in 1.9 million crashes per year. The findings from the study may spur the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to put into place new rules that require the advanced technology to be standard on all vehicles.

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