Throughout the past decade, foreign and domestic automakers have added
features to production automobiles making them safer for drivers and better
designed to avoid collisions. Other features increase the protection level
of the vehicle’s occupants in cases where a collision cannot be avoided.
Using Features for Increased Driver Safety
Traction Control: Most cars come equipped with traction control (TC), also called electronic
stability control (ESC), to limit wheel spin and reduce the potential
for skidding. To use this feature safely, simply drive and brake normally.
If your tires suddenly lose traction on wet pavement or gravel, the system
may cut power to one or more wheels to prevent a possible skid from developing.
Drivers should not panic, simply proceed and normal power will be restored
to the drive wheels when the system senses the vehicle has re-stabilized.
Side Impact / Curtain Airbags: Most cars built after 2002 come equipped with side impact and side curtain
airbags. Side impact airbags deploy if the car is struck from the side.
Curtain airbags deploy in cases of severe side impact or in cases where
the vehicle rolls over. In order for these systems to do their jobs effectively,
all vehicle occupants should wear their seat belts at all times. A seat
belt will keep a driver/passenger in the seat, while the airbags will
help cushion any net impact from the side. Without a seatbelt, the side
airbags may not protect the occupants effectively.
Collision Avoidance Systems: This technology is relatively new and is currently offered on some 2014
Infiniti models as well as the 2014 Chevrolet Impala. A system of forward
sensors scans traffic patterns up to two vehicles ahead. Warning lights
and tones warn the driver of obstacles or slowing traffic ahead of the
vehicle that may not yet be visible. In certain cases, the vehicle will
brake automatically and stop itself if the driver fails to do so and is
in danger of colliding with a vehicle or object. The systems are new and
are designed as an emergency backup braking method. The systems cannot
prevent an accident if a driver is following too closely and they cannot
prevent distracted driving. Drivers should still take proactive measures
to eliminate distractions, such as cell phones, while the vehicle is in
motion. This system is expected to be more widely available across more
vehicle models over the next 5 years.
Back-Up Cameras: More vehicles, such as the 2014 Honda Civic, have backup cameras as standard
equipment. These can help drivers in busy neighborhoods and in parking
lots. When the car is placed in reverse, a small in-dash LCD screen shows
the driver what is behind the vehicle below the window-line. Drivers should
still turn and look behind them when backing up, but glancing at the screen
display can help a driver to see any objects or people that may be in
the blind spot behind the vehicle. Backup cameras can also assist drivers
in avoiding curbs, objects, and other vehicles during parallel parking
or backing into parking spaces.
Voice Command Controls: Some newer vehicles are equipped with voice recognition technology. Several
2013 and newer vehicles can adjust audio and climate settings when the
driver speaks a set of commands. This is an effective tool to help combat
distracted driving. Using voice commands keeps the driver’s eyes
on the road ahead and hands on the wheel. By controlling settings with
verbal commands, a driver’s focus stays on the road and better prepares
him/her for sudden dangers on the road ahead.