The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that a vast number of automotive crashes are due to some human error. As such, automakers have worked to install advanced safety technologies to reduce the likelihood of such human errors. The majority of these new safety systems can be classified as driver assist technology. These technologies work to improve the driving habits of those behind the wheel so as to prevent any avoidable accidents.
Defining driver assist technology
Jeremy Laukkonen of Lifewire states that the definition of driver assist technology can be somewhat difficult to pin down, due to the ever-changing nature of automotive tech. Still, Laukkonen goes on to state that the general description of driver assist technology is any advanced safety system that routinely assists the driver with essential tasks and has the goal of creating a safer environment for those inside the car, as well as those located around the vehicle. These driver assist technologies can either be active or passive. The NHTSA states that most active driver assist technologies incorporate the vehicle’s brakes in some capacity, while passive systems often alert the driver to any unplanned maneuver. Defining different driver assist safety systems will illustrate the benefits that these pieces of technology provide.
Automatic emergency braking system
According to the NHTSA, automatic emergency braking systems have been featured in vehicles as far back as 2006. However, the technology is only now beginning to be identified as an essential safety system. Automatic emergency braking first alerts the driver that braking is necessary, based on any forward objects that the vehicle is approaching. If the driver does not respond right away, the automatic emergency braking technology will cause the car to automatically stop without driver input. Consumer Reports notes that select vehicles even come equipped with rear automatic emergency braking systems. This system is designed to prevent drivers from backing into another vehicle in an environment like a parking lot.
Lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
An example of a passive driver assist technology is lane-departure warning. Consumer Reports states that most lane-departure warning systems provide drivers with visual or audible alerts when they stray from their designated lane. Lane-keeping assist is the active component of this technology. Many lane-keeping assist systems will actually course-correct vehicles when they exit their lane.
A large number of on-road accidents are due to a vehicle entering a driver’s blind spot. To prevent such accidents from occurring, automakers have developed a series of blind-spot warning systems. Utilizing a series of cameras or sensors, the vehicle is alerted to any nearby cars entering the driver’s blind spot. Much like with lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning systems will also provide drivers with visual or audible cues when a vehicle enters their blind spot.
One of the most common driver assist technologies is a rearview camera, according to the NHTSA. In fact, it is now mandatory for new vehicles to come equipped with such a system. The rearview camera activates any time that the driver shifts the vehicle into reverse. While the field of view projected via these cameras differ, the NHTSA notes that most have a range of around 10 feet by 20 feet.
Adaptive cruise control
Laukkonen notes that one of the most popular and advanced driver assist technologies is adaptive cruise control. In many ways, this system is similar to a traditional cruise control, yet requires less driver input. Unlike with a traditional cruise control interface, drivers will not have to manually adjust their vehicle’s pace each time they approach an oncoming automobile. Instead, the adaptive cruise control system uses radar and cameras to determine a new speed to follow the vehicle ahead. For many automakers, adaptive cruise control represents the first big step toward autonomous driving. Indeed, many automotive brands market their adaptive cruise control systems as semi-autonomous driving.
Are driver assist technologies worth the cost?
Ian Thibodeau of The Detroit News explains that these driver assist technologies often come with a hefty price tag. With many of these technologies relegated to the highest trim levels, a large number of motorists cannot afford them. Still, Anita Lienert of Edmunds argues that these expensive technologies may actually end up saving consumers money. After all, it’s likely cheaper to spend a bit more on driver assist technology than paying to repair a vehicle following an accident that could have been avoided with some assistance from these advanced safety systems.