As auto makers continue to push the innovation envelope by equipping vehicles with an ever-expanding array of safety devices, researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), are gathering data. They are anxious to quantify the effectiveness of such features as blind spot detection, park assist and backup cameras.
As the IIHS notes, these systems are already finding their way into mainstream vehicles. Also becoming more common are high-tech safety features such as cross traffic alert, which warns a driver if traffic is about to enter the vehicle's path from the side. Another intriguing system is curve speed warning. It uses global positioning and speed information to determine if the vehicle is about to take a curve too fast, says the IIHS. Then there is something called fatigue warning, which tracks steering and other driver behaviours, looking for signs of inattention, and then sounding an appropriate alert and perhaps an intervention. Other safety features:
- Night vision assist uses infrared imaging to produce an enhanced view of the road ahead. The images are projected on a display before they are visible to the human eye at night.
- Side impact detection: When a side impact appears imminent, this system inflates side-impact air bags to protect passengers in a more timely and thorough manner.
- Rear collision detection: The vehicle automatically adjust seats and head restraints to protect occupants from an imminent rear-ender.
- Lane departure prevention: This takes lane departure warning to another level by guiding a strayed vehicle back into its lane automatically.