There’s a lot of hype around self-driving cars and their ability to prevent accidents, save lives and free up people's time. And while their widespread use is still many decades away, not all American drivers are ready for the technological leap.
Waymo has said their cars will be kept offline most of the time to avoid any potential hacks, but it's going to take some time for people to feel comfortable with a computer driving them around, despite the fact that over 90 percent of accidents are caused by human error.
In the meantime there is plenty of car technology available out on the market for drivers to use that has been tested and in use on the roads.
Advanced Safety Systems
Vehicles today have more advanced safety systems than ever before. Many cars now have active safety systems that come standard in a vehicle or can be added onto models to keep drivers safe. Manufacturers are building these systems to mitigate accidents and help drivers avoid crashes altogether.
A forward-collision warning will tell the driver if the vehicle gets too close to the car in front of them, usually with a visual or audible alert. This typically comes alongside automatic emergency braking, which helps compensate if a driver’s reaction time is too slow. An average driver may take 1 to 2 seconds to react, but that can double if a driver is texting or otherwise distracted. With AEB, brakes are automatically applied if you get too close to the car in front of you. AEB will either stop your vehicle completely to avoid a collision or reduce your speed to decrease the severity of an unavoidable crash.
A lane-departure warning alerts drivers when they cross over lane markings. For example, if you start to drift on the highway, the car will alert you so that you can guide the vehicle back on track. Some vehicles also have lane-keeping assist which provides automatic corrective steering to guide your vehicle if it crosses out of the road lane lines.
Blind-spot warnings are notifications that alert drivers of any vehicles in their blind spots while they drive. This is beneficial for changing lanes or if you’re in a vehicle where it is hard to check your blind spots. Some cars have these detectors on their side view mirrors, and they flash or light up when a vehicle is in your blind spot. Additionally, some vehicles are now arriving with a 360-degree camera that allows you to see all around the car.
Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
The rear cross-traffic alert lets you know about any hazards located behind your vehicle. This active safety system, in combination with a backup camera, will help you see what is typically hidden in a car’s blind spots. What is unique about this safety feature is that it captures what is outside of your backup camera’s range, which can be especially helpful in parking lots and busy cities.
With each safety feature, make sure to check with your auto insurance as you maybe eligible for a discount.
In December 2016, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a proposed rule to require all new vehicles to have vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication capabilities by 2023. They predict that these safety applications could eliminate or mitigate the severity of up to 80 percent of non-impaired accidents, especially at intersections or during lane changes.
V2V technology allows cars to talk to each other and share information multiple times per second. This technology has the potential to drastically make roads safer as cars can warn each driver of potential hazards. By sharing information about speed and direction, a car can then warn a driver if they go to change lanes or alert them to dangers up ahead on the roads.
Apps & In-Vehicle Gadgets
If purchasing a new car with safety features isn’t in your plan this year, consider using one of these apps or in-vehicle gadgets to stay safe behind the wheel. You've all heard about the no texting and driving, but truthfully distracted driving is a major concern, as traffic deaths continue to rise. Try one of these apps or gadget to improve your driving skills on a budget.
EverDrive allows you to measure your skills on every drive, so you can easily keep track of your improvements and compete with friends or family. The app measures habits such as phone distraction, speeding, hard braking, acceleration, and turning—providing you with an overall driving score based on your past two weeks of driving.
Cell Phone Carrier
Your cell phone carrier may also have their own drive mode option for your phone, so check with them to see what features are currently available that can block you from calling or texting while you drive, except for emergency calls.
Another mobile app available is Drive Beehive. This peer-to-peer rewards app allows you to choose a sponsor to reward you for driving safe. You and your sponsor agree on a designated number of miles that you must drive without distraction, before receiving your award. This mobile app could be a good fit for young drivers, and they may also enjoy the competitive nature of EverDrive.
For in-vehicle gadgets, there is Verizon’s Hum device. This car device keeps you up to date on vehicle maintenance and decodes engine lights. Drivers can receive maintenance reminders and get roadside assistance with the press of a button. The device also allows you to track your vehicle’s location and monitor the driver’s speed if another driver, or your teen, uses it.
Make this year a safe one on the roads by using these active car safety systems, in-vehicle gadgets, and mobile apps. Purchase a new high-tech car or outfit your current model with better protection to stay safe on the roads.