10 life-saving car technologies
30th Sep 2008 | 13:45
Driving would be even riskier without these innovations
Most of the time you won't even know they are there. But quietly working away in the background is a myriad of safety systems which keep you safe every time you set off in your car. These are 10 of the best.
1. Stability and traction control
Some systems keep you safe in an accident, but stability and traction control is there to avoid getting that far. Sensors in the wheels detect a loss of control, for example in a bend, and apply the brakes to the wheels with the least grip to avoid a skid.
Airbags have been saving lives since the 1980s, but they are still getting more sophisticated. Honda, for instance, is working on one which deploys in 0.015 seconds, twice the speed of a normal airbag.
3. Radar cruise control
Cruise control allows you to set your car's speed but it won't do the braking for you. Radar cruise will. Sensors can detect a car in front and automatically apply the brakes, re-accelerating to your set speed when the road is clear again.
4. Lane departure warning system
We've all done it; straying slightly out of your lane because you're fishing around for the midget gem on the floor or to grab your café latte. This tech has sensors which detect the white lines in the road and send a vibration into your seat when you stray out of lane. Useful if you fall asleep at the wheel.
5. Night vision
Infrared sensors in the bumper display a monochrome image of the road ahead when driving in the dark, allowing the driver to spot people, animals and other objects in the road from as far as 500ft. Only used on high-end Mercs and BMWs at present, but will become more common.
6. Road sign reader
This is the latest in a new generation of safety technology. The new Vauxhall Insignia has cameras which can read road signs and warn the driver of a change in speed limit, allowing them to concentrate purely on the road ahead.
7. Electronic pedestrian protection
This tech is so new that no UK cars have it yet. Sensors in the front of the car can detect an impact with a pedestrian and raise the bonnet slightly to avoid them striking their heads on the hard engine below - the main cause of pedestrian deaths.
8. Tyre-pressure monitoring
Blow-outs are a major cause of car crashes, and often happen at high speed. Tyre pressure monitors are a life saver as they warn you when the air pressure gets too low.
9. Blind spot detection
When learning to drive we're taught to look over our shoulder before changing lanes. This new tech will spare you a cricked neck and avoid a collision by monitoring your blind spot and warning you of a car you haven't seen.
10. Seat-belt reminders
No longer will you think "it's only a short journey, I'll not need my seatbelt," because most new cars come with reminders which beep infuriatingly if you drive off without clink-clonking first. Irritating, but life saving.