While everyone is acting like autonomous cars (a.k.a. cars that can drive themselves) are some new thing that’s way ahead in the future, there are a lot of safety systems that you can get right now that basically form the bedrock of autonomous driving. New cars can brake for you, steer for you, and change your speed, all depending on what their radar and cameras are telling them.
These safety features in cars not only protect you in case an accident happens, they can actually stop an accident from happening completely.
Adaptive cruise control
Cruise control is a neat concept — if you’re out on a long highway drive, it can help you maintain a certain speed while still shifting your body position safely. But it’s also potentially dangerous. What if the car in front of you slows down? What if they stop completely? Highways are rarely completely straight, and cars usually slow down around curves, in wet weather, or because of traffic.Enter adaptive cruise control (ACC), a smarter version of cruise control that changes the speed of your car to match the car in front of you. It uses radar to lock on to the cars in front of you and keep your car a safe distance away. ACC doesn’t replace safe, attentive driving, but it can make using cruise control much safer and prevent accidents related to cruise control. ACC is often seen as the foundation for autonomous cars, and is used in Tesla’s autonomous highway driving feature.
Lane departure warning
You know how some people tell you to "stay in your lane" when discussing hot potato political issues and also when you’re drifting in and out of a highway lane? A lane departure warning is basically the same thing but with beeps and cameras. With a pretty simple dashboard camera, you can get a warning whenever your car starts to drift into the wrong lane. If you frequently go on long drives, especially a night when you’re drowsy, a lane departure warning could save your life.
Active rollover protection
Let’s say your car is skidding out of control and is going to tip over and roll all over the highway. Not good, right? Generally, not what we want. That’s where active rollover protection (ARP) comes on. With ARP installed, your car can detect when a rollover might happen and apply the brakes in order to mitigate and prevent a rollover. ARP can also decrease the engine torque if necessary. While rollovers are relatively rare, occurring in only three percent of serious crashes, they are responsible for thirty percent of deaths in those accidents. Any system that can prevent them should be high on your list of must-have features.
Emergency brake assist
Turns out, human beings are not good at braking. For starters, we’re slow. We also can’t handle the vibrations of an anti-lock braking system — which, simply put, means that we don’t brake as hard as we need to in an emergency. An emergency brake assist can help drivers apply the maximum braking power in an emergency situation, which can reduce the damage done when crashing into another vehicle and even prevent accidents altogether.
Collision avoidance system
What if your car could see an obstacle and automatically pump the brakes or steer your car away, preventing the accident completely? That’s the goal of a collision avoidance system, which uses a lot of the same sensors as adaptive cruise control in order to "see" the road ahead. In the event that you might hit a car, a pedestrian, or another obstacle, a collision avoidance system can either automatically stop the car or even steer out of the way at higher speeds. These systems have a lot of potential to stop serious accidents — so much so that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety requires new cars to have a collision avoidance system in order to earn its highest safety score.
Not every safety feature is a part of our robotic driving future. In fact, there are many car safety features that just make it easier to be a safe driver. You can check out six of them in our article. Buying a car with high-tech safety features isn’t just good for reducing your risk of getting into a car accident, however — it’s also good on your wallet. Insurance companies may charge you less for auto insurance if your car has high safety ratings.