Collision avoidance systems are the next development in vehicle safety. Since the legal requirement of seatbelts, most safety features have focused on protecting the passengers in the event of an accident. It's easy to get distracted talking or texting on a cell phone, going through menus on your car navigation system, or changing the track on your car CD changer. Looking away from the road for just a few seconds can cause a serious car accident. Moving forward, automakers are looking to avoid accidents altogether with new collision avoidance technology.
Collision avoidance systems usually involve adaptive cruise control. This is like normal cruise control, but with radar sensors that can detect traffic ahead of you to maintain a certain distance away. They can also sound alarms or flash warnings on the windshield if the sensors detect you’re getting too close to the car in front of you too fast. If you don’t react in time, the system will automatically apply break pressure. If the computers and sensors determine that you are going to crash, they will tighten seatbelts, adjust headrests, and close power windows and the sunroof to make the car safer in the collision.
Collision avoidance also includes other technology like sensors to tell if you’ve drifted into another lane or to monitor your blind spots. These use cameras instead of radar to watch the road around the vehicle and alert the driver of any dangers.
Having these systems in vehicles make cars smarter than drivers. It alerts sleepy drivers if they’re drifting around the highway and distracted drivers if they’re about to turn into someone in their blind spot. It also prevents serial tailgaters by forcing a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead. These systems could save many lives as the computers react faster in crucial situations than we do.
There is a potential for the system to overreact, causing irritating warning lights to flash when there may not be present danger. Some argue this would be a small price to pay for the lives that could be saved by collision avoidance systems.
Today this technology is primarily available for luxury cars, like BMWs, Cadillacs, and Audis but it has begun to appear in mid-level cars as well, like the Ford Taurus and the Dodge Charger. It will only be a matter of time before these systems are widely available for even lower priced vehicles so everyone can benefit from the added safety collision avoidance systems provide.