The Future Of Car Safety


November 21, 2016

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It's not just our phones that are smart - our cars are now smart as well. Where once we only had safety belts and airbags to help us survive a crash, we now have the advantage of technology to help us steer clear of danger - before we are even aware of a threat.

Leading the charge on safe driving is the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). Their Connected Vehicles technology program has been researching how to equip our cars with Wi-Fi technology so that they can "talk" to each other. This will allow vehicles to share critical information such as their location, speed, brake status and position to warn drivers and help them avoid hazardous situations.

Here's what a connected vehicle will be able to do:

Warn you if there's sudden braking from cars ahead: If a vehicle even several cars ahead of you brakes suddenly, your connected vehicle will warn you, giving you time to slow down safely and avoid a collision.

Help you avoid collisions at intersections: If another vehicle approaching the intersection runs a red light, your car will warn you and give you time to react.

Inform you of bad weather conditions: From floods to icy roads to windblown debris, this new technology will offer warnings of unsafe road conditions experienced by drivers ahead, enabling you to slow down to a safer speed or change your route.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is already moving ahead with regulations that will require such connected technology in all new vehicles in coming years. In the meantime, if you're shopping around for a new car, here are some safety features you might like to consider. They'll help you get ahead of the car tech curve:

Around View Monitors

These systems provide a 360-degree, bird's-eye view of the car by processing input from four cameras located on the front, rear and sides of the vehicle's body. The Around View Monitor helps drivers visually confirm the vehicle's position relative to the lines around parking spaces and adjacent objects.

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)

Sensors near the front and rear bumper help alert the driver to approaching vehicles or objects while backing up. When an object is detected, the system applies brief braking pressure while the vehicle is moving backward, and can actually stop the vehicle in time to prevent impact with obstacles or, more importantly, people.

So important is this technology for both driver and pedestrian safety, NHTSA recently announced it will require AEB features in its 5-Star Safety Rating criteria, starting with model year 2018, to further encourage auto manufacturers to include AEB as standard equipment.

Night Vision Safety Technology

Using far-infrared imaging, these systems scan the road for pedestrians and other moving objects up to four times beyond the headlight range. The infrared camera registers people and animals based on their body heat and movements, then alerts the driver. It even works to identify objects that may be hidden by fog or smoke.

Pedestrian Detection and Braking

Depending on the manufacturer, these systems employ radar and/or optical (camera) technology to detect pedestrians or cyclists in front of the vehicle and bring the car to a full stop at speeds of 10 mph or below.

Rear Cross Traffic Alert

Using radar-based sensors that work in conjunction with Side Blind Zone alert systems, Rear Cross Traffic alert systems warn the driver of oncoming traffic coming from the side when backing out of a parking spot - including angled parking.

If you're shopping for cars, be sure to visit the GEICO Car Buying Service to compare features and pricing information.

Learning defensive driving techniques could earn you a discount on your car insurance. Visit to learn more.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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