Points to Ponder

Safety technologies exist, but attentive drivers still necessary

advanced driver assistance systems

In advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, the key word is “assistance.”

Many ADAS technologies are here right now, and they exist in everyday, affordable cars on the market. However, it is important to remember that today’s technologies are assistive and cannot be considered as a safe replacement for a human driver. There is no fully automated vehicle on the road today that members of the public can drive – even those in testing have safety drivers that may take over. At least for now, fully automated vehicles remain in the testing stage confined to specific environments.

Much more common today are systems that watch out for you. That means you can drive a car with ADAS features that help keep you in your lane (e.g., lane keeping assist), forward collision warning or automatic emergency braking that help prevent rear-end collisions. These technologies exist to assist you, so you must be an alert, attentive driver whenever you are on the road.

Not all advanced vehicle safety technologies are created equal.

Some ADAS features provide a greater safety benefit than others. The most valuable technologies include automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot detection and adaptive headlights, according to an analysis from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. If those four features existed in every car, more than 10,000 lives could be saved and almost 150,000 injuries could be prevented every year, the organization states.

Names and icons for car safety features might vary.

Car manufacturers implement safety technologies in different ways. They also name these technologies differently. For instance, the driver of one vehicle brand might know automatic emergency braking technology as “Forward Emergency Braking.” But a driver of another vehicle brand might know the technology as a “Collision Mitigation Braking System.” Likewise, dashboard icons for the same function may differ depending on the car.

Both the Society of Automotive Engineers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provide standards and regulations with regard to auto safety.

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