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Auto Safety Advancements That Reduce Accident Potential

Many of the bells and whistles supplied with new cars are little more than window dressing and a way to increase the bottom line cost to the consumer. However, some manufacturers are placing more thought into technological advancements for safety and accident reduction.

Three of these changes were reviewed and studied by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) recently to determine if they were effective or not.

Lane Departure and Collision Warnings

Three manufacturers offer some safety tools based on new developments in artificial intelligence. Acura, Mercedes, and Volvo have warning mechanisms that alert drivers to the dangers of collisions ahead or leaving the traffic lane.

Tests involving the automatic warning for lane departure did not prove to be effective. In practice, the driver is often dozing off when this happens, and a warning might be too late if that is the case.

Indications are that the Buick and Mercedes lane departure warnings may be more harmful than helpful. The tests showed an increase in accidents when vehicles were so equipped, although the increase was only marginal.

The warning of a collision ahead has shown to be more useful, especially with Acura and Mercedes. Their designs offer an automatic braking system that engages when the object ahead gets nearer rapidly. Volvo’s design bundles the forward collision warning system in with the lane shift alert, which makes it somewhat less effective, but it does check out with an approximate 10% reduction in collisions.

Directional Headlights

Another innovation that seems to be of use is adaptive headlights. This feature ties the steering with the lights so they follow the trajectory of the car. This has great promise in providing much better vision going around curves. While this may offer an advantage to the driver of the vehicle so equipped, it could prove to be detrimental to oncoming traffic, which will be determined by more testing.

Adaptive headlights show promise because they tested out to an almost 10% reduction in collisions. This is very important when you consider that only about 7% of police reported accidents occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

All these features are in relative infancy, and they will be tweaked in the coming years. Their relative importance may prove only to improve safety by a few points, but any life saved or accident prevented makes their application worthwhil