Gone are the days of motor vehicles being considered no more than tyres, engines, steering wheels and a bit of upholstery. In current times, car manufacturers are creating vehicles that are not only capable of transporting people from one point to another, but are also equipped with state-of-the-art safety and assistance systems that ensure intelligent decisions are made by these vehicles at vital moments. Here are 5 modern car safety features worth knowing about – proving that these days, your car often does know best.
Driver Drowsiness Detection
Sleepy drivers are a serious problem on the roads, causing up to 20 percent of accidents in the UK according to driver fatigue data by road safety charity, Brake. Car manufacturers including Audi, Mercedes, Nissan, Volkswagen and Volvo have been developing various Driver Drowsiness Detection systems that monitor how long you’ve been driving, your car’s movements, how often you make steering corrections over a certain length of time, as well as your eye/face movements and body posture. When it calculates you are showing signs of fatigue, the vehicle will make a loud beeping noise to ensure you are awake and to warn you that perhaps it’s time to pull over and take a rest.
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)
Yes, many of you may know this feature exists, but surprisingly enough, most drivers do not know what this term even means or what the feature actually does. In 1978, Mercedes began including ABS braking systems in their vehicles, a trend that most other manufactures only started to emulate in the 1990s. When you slam on brakes, this system pumps the brakes for you, thereby preventing your car’s tyres from locking, ultimately stopping the car from sliding and you from losing control. This is accomplished through multiple sensors telling the car which wheels need to be momentarily freed in order to regain traction. Talk about reflexes!
The S.O.S. Button is becoming a more frequent feature in many vehicles, including modern models from Lexus to Land Rover, Vauxhall and Toyota to name but a few. This button is linked to the eCall system that automatically notifies emergency services if your car is involved in an accident and forwards your location and other vehicle information to them. You can also manually contact the emergency services through this feature if you witness something like a car collision. However, do not press the big shiny button unnecessarily, no matter how much you want to see what happens. This could result in diverting responders away from critical situations.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)
Many premium brands including Jaguar, Porsche, and BMW now include ADAS as standard in all current car creations. This system has been developed to stop the cause of almost all vehicle accidents. Its primary roles are to prevent serious injury and deaths through decreasing the number of accidents and reducing the impact of those that are unavoidable, through the use of sensors and cameras. Applications include Lane departure warning/correction, pedestrian detection/avoidance, traffic sign recognition, blind spot detection and automatic emergency braking. These critical systems are laying the foundations for fully-autonomous cars like those currently produced by Tesla.
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
All new cars manufactured after 2014 have been equipped with wheel sensors that monitor the pressure of your tyres and inform the tyres are nearing flat through a light on the dashboard. Believe it or not, this is a very important system as it can alert you to slow punctures that can lead to blowouts. Not ideal when travelling at 70mp/h on a crowded dual carriageway. Being alerted to any pressure issues can also lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, as well as optimise performance and extend the life of the tyres themselves (not to mention your own and your passengers).