The technology making the roads safer
Car manufacturers are increasingly developing technologies to help prevent accidents, not just with other vehicles, but with pedestrians, cyclists and other road users too.
- Forward collision warning (FCW) systems, which use cameras and/or sensors to detect cars in front of you and sound an alarm.
- Automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems take this technology a step further and will automatically apply the brakes if you fail to respond to an impending accident. These systems are continuously evolving with new models to spot new risks, such as cross traffic approaching from the side.
- Blind spot information systems will display a light in the side mirror or sound an alarm if you attempt to change lane with a car in your blind spot.
- Lane departure warning (LDW) will sound an alarm if you inadvertently wander out of your lane without indicating. Lane keep assist (LKA) takes this a step further by actively correcting your line by nudging the steering.
- Adaptive cruise control (ACC) uses radar in the front of the car to measure the distance to the car in front, and keep you at a constant gap behind it to help avoid unintentional tailgating. If the cruise control is set to 70mph and the car in front is doing 65, the ACC will automatically match your speed until the car in front moves out of the way.
- Rear cross-traffic warning helps with the age-old problem of reversing out of a parking space. Can’t see what’s coming? A series of sensors will keep an eye out for you, and sound an alarm if something’s about to occupy the area you’re backing into.
This preventative technology is in addition to efforts from manufacturers to reduce the impact of accidents on pedestrians when they happen, and safety organisation Euro NCAP has standards that new cars must meet to get a good score on safety tests. These include deformable areas on car bodywork, and sprung bonnets that pops up to increase the space between the engine and bonnet, thus reducing the impact in the event of a collision.
This concept is being extended to other road users and even the road infrastructure itself, as part of a movement known as vehicle-to-everything (V2X). Ford and bicycle manufacturer Trek are working together on bicycle-to-vehicle (B2V) communication, which would see bikes carry a transmitter that would, where necessary, alert nearby vehicles to their presence.