More than 30,000 people die in car accidents annually in the United States, according the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That figure is staggering, but it’s far below the peak death rate of 54,589 in 1972 when there were far fewer cars were on the road. Today’s cars are built better, and often come equipped with safety features that mitigate injuries and reduce deaths. Beyond air bags, crumple zones and anti-lock braking systems, there are huge advancements in new car technology.
Also known as backup cameras, rearview monitors enable drivers to see behind their vehicles. These types of cameras effectively eliminate blind spots, letting drivers see children, pets and objects that might otherwise be obscured. Every year, thousands of children are injured or killed because a driver, often a parent, backs over them, according to the KidsAndCars.org. Monitors like this are becoming standard equipment in new cars.
Voice Control Systems
Another favorite new car technology is voice control systems. They have been in use for several years and are increasingly available with most mainstream models. These systems typically operate in conjunction with your car’s telematics system. Telematics interaction can prove distracting, but those units with included voice control usually allow the driver to make calls, receive messages, search radio stations and map a route without needing to take their hands off the steering wheel. Distracted driving is a big problem, but voice control systems provide drivers with the security they need.
Adaptive Cruise Control
Standard cruise control has only gotten better with the addition of the adaptive version. Also known as radar cruise control, this particular new car advancement ensures that your vehicle maintains its distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you, no matter the speed. That means if you were to set the cruise control to 60 mph, and the car in front of you slows to 55 mph, the system automatically slows your car. It only resumes the higher speed when the slower vehicle picks up speed or moves out-of-the-way.
Blind-Sport Warning Systems
Another recent innovation is the widespread adoption of blind-spot warning systems. These rely on sensors to determine when a car is approaching your blind spots, by lighting a symbol in the appropriate side mirror. Some manufacturers tie these systems to lane keeping assist (LKA). With LKA, your car cannot switch lanes on the highway if the warning system detects a car in your path, enabling you to avoid a side profile accident.
Improvements in headlight technology give drivers the ability to see further and wider than they ever have. Indeed, this new car technology increases the driver’s line of vision, helping them to react faster. For instance, that herd of deer, just out of sight with common halogen headlamps, may come into view faster with your BiXenon headlamps that also move slightly up and down as well as to the left or to the right as you climb hills and take corners. Providing drivers with a few extra moments of reaction time can make all the difference for accident avoidance, per the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
No matter what technology is offered in your new car, it can help you drive smarter and safer, ushering in an era of enhanced security not available a mere generation ago.
Check out all the relays, sensors and switches
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Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.