Anyone over the age of 40 can likely remember a time when passengers in a vehicle were free to move about, unrestrained by seat belts and other vehicle safety features. While those waxing nostalgic may claim that such freedom enhanced the driving experience, it cannot be argued that the many safety advances incorporated into vehicles in recent years have helped saved countless lives.
Almost everyone uses a vehicle to commute, yet getting into a car is still one of the most dangerous activities a person can undertake on any given day. Automobile designers have been working for the last 25-30 years incorporating safety technologies into vehicles in an effort to change that statistic. It all started with seatbelts. Even compared to today’s advanced systems, seatbelt usage is still the most likely factor to save one’s life in an accident. Air bags are another major safety feature that undoubtedly saves lives and prevents serious injuries.
Hospital attendants and car accident lawyers know firsthand how devastating car accidents can be; therefore, automakers have focused much of their safety efforts towards accident prevention rather than protection. One of the first accident-avoidance systems introduced into vehicles was electronic stability control. ESC and related systems, such as traction control and anti-lock brakes, have become mandatory on all vehicles in recent years.
One of the more recent collision avoidance systems seen in today’s cars are adaptive systems. These help to the take the guesswork out of driving. Adaptive headlights allow for an optimal front-facing view in all different types of lighting conditions, while adaptive cruise control (once seen as more of a luxury than a necessity) helps drivers to maintain safe speeds while driving on freeways and highways. Other adaptive systems are soon to come.
Several of the technologies supporting adaptive systems are now being used to provide impending collision warnings. Vehicle forward sensors can sense objects on the road and trigger automatic braking, helping compensate for gaps in driver reaction time, while lane departure warnings help keep drivers from straying away from their lanes. Of course, all of these safety features mean little if motorists do not take it upon themselves to drive responsibly.