We all know that driving on the road is dangerous. People get into accidents all the time. Human error and plain old bad luck conspire against us, leading to injury.
Motorists, however, don’t want to live in a world where they never quite know where the next body blow will arrive. They want to feel safe in their vehicles.
Carmakers have innovated considerably over the past couple of decades, adding all kinds of new features to wrap passengers in cotton wool. But they’re still a long way from creating technology that will prevent drivers from dying. That’s just not possible right now.
When you think about it, though, the car industry is in a strange position. No other sector in the economy can get away with producing a product that kills thousands of people every year – except for tobacco. And certainly, no company that sells equipment. Safety is usually a top priority.
In general, automakers don’t want to sell products that kill their customers. That’s not good business. And so they’ve massively innovated, looking for ways to protect occupants and prevent accidents from occurring in the first place.
So what new technology is on the testbed? And in what ways can we expect it to change the face of driving?
Advanced Driving Assistance Systems
Five years ago, Elon Musk predicted that we’d have fully self-driving vehicles on the road in 18 months. They never arrived. What did appear, though, was a raft of impressive driver-assist technologies.
The first place we’re likely to see these show up is in the haulage industry. Commercial operators need technologies that will keep both their drivers and the general public safe. Every year, truck accident lawyers, Rosenfeld Law, file dozens of cases against negligent drivers. New driver-assist tech promises to reduce liabilities.
Next, it’ll show up more in regular private vehicles. Luxury carmakers are already including things like highway autonomy and computer-assisted lane-switching as standard. Before long, these technologies will trickle down into the mid-range and then to entry-level.
Blind Spot Detection
A significant chunk of accidents on the road occurs because drivers can’t see what’s in their blind spots. They inadvertently move over and wind up shunting into another vehicle.
Now a range of manufacturers, including Hyundai, Audi and Volvo all include blind-spot detection as standard. If there’s a driver in your blind spot, these vehicles will flash a warning light, either on your dash or the wing mirror.
Electronic Stability Control
Electronic stability control systems have improved dramatically over the past few years. Historically, they controlled engine and brake output to reduce skids. But now they’re getting so good that they’re able to tell when a skid is likely to occur. In other words, they prevent them from happening at all.
Finally, adaptive headlights are making an appearance. These react to conditions on the road. So, for instance, if you’re turning around a tight corner, they will point in the direction of travel, not just in a beam straight out in front of your vehicle. They’ll also brighten if an oncoming car has its headlights on full.