Anyone who has purchased a new motor vehicle in the last 10 years knows these sure aren’t your grandparents’ trusty old sedans. Today’s driver assistance technologies are designed to make driving easier and safer, with the potential to save thousands of lives.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2020, sadly, 38,824 people died in motor vehicle crashes — many of which were tied to human error.
Today’s car tech includes warning systems that alert drivers to potential accidents before they happen, as well as collision intervention systems that can react and brake faster than a driver. We even have driving control assistance technologies designed to keep our cars a safe distance from others and make sure we’re staying in our lanes.
How are these new automotive technologies impacting driving safety?
NHTSA reports that “driver assistance technologies hold the potential to reduce traffic crashes and save thousands of lives each year.” They break down these technologies into the following categories:*
- Collision warning (including forward collision, lane departure, rear cross traffic, and blind spot warning systems)
- Collision intervention (including automatic emergency braking, pedestrian automatic emergency braking, rear automatic braking, and blind spot intervention)
- Driving control assistance (including adaptive cruise control, lane centering assistance, and lane keeping assistance)
- Other systems (automatic high beams, backup camera, and automatic crash notification)
*Note: See link below to NHTSA’s driver education website, which explains and illustrates with graphics and video what each of these safety technologies is designed to do.
NHTSA reports, “We now know that driver assistance technologies are the right path toward safer roads.”
In addition, insurance company Progressive reports that, “Ten years ago, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released some game-changing numbers that showed front collision warning, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and curve-adaptive headlights together could prevent or mitigate nearly one-third of reported crashes each year.”
Citing a 2020 report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS/HLDI), Progressive notes that four car technologies are making an impact on driving safety:
- Front automatic emergency braking (reduces front-to-rear crashes by 50%)*
- Blind-spot warning (reduces lane-change crashes by 14% & crashes with injuries by 23%)*
- Rear cross-traffic warning & rear auto emergency braking (reduces backing crashes by 78%)
- Automatic high beams & related tech (Higher-rated headlights reduce single-vehicle nighttime crashes by ~20%)
*Note: Progressive notes on its website that, “Progressive has analyzed data for front automatic emergency braking and blind-spot warning and uses these technologies for the purpose of setting rates. Progressive has not analyzed nor does it use any other featured technologies for rating purposes.” See link below to full report.
However — as we’ve all witnessed in our daily travels (and we might know from personal experience) — today’s tech-powered autos come with plenty of distractions. These include onboard infotainment systems, GPS devices, head-up display systems (HUD) projecting information such as speed and fuel onto the windshield, and Bluetooth hands-free phone systems (which free up the hands but not the mind).
Driver safety can be improved with so many safety technologies available. Our grandparents would never have dreamed that our automobiles would be outfitted seemingly like rocket ships. However, these technologies do not mean drivers can take a back seat to driving responsibly.
Distracted driving remains one of the number-one killers on our highways and roadways, accounting for more than 3,500 fatalities in 2021, NHTSA reports. Ultimately, no matter how high-tech our cars might be, responsibility for everyone’s safety lies in the hands of the driver. Be careful out there and stay alert!
Driver Assistance Technologies
NHTSA collected online April 25, 2023
IIHS creates safeguard ratings for partial automation
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) January 20, 2022
Does tech make driving safer?
Progressive.com collected online April 25, 2023