From small warning lights on the dash to the more complicated braking and slip differential system, safety features have evolved over time. Seatbelts and airbags are common for car makers to include in the vehicle but being a feature that only just prevents post-accident injuries, car manufacturers, of late, have started adding extra driver aid that help prevent accidents. Special computers are fitted inside vehicles to automatically adjust power delivery and braking without the driver’s help. These safety features are active every time someone is behind the wheel. Here are some of the more popular driver aids included in modern cars.
Stick to the road
In the past, drivers had to feather the throttle pedal to prevent the drive wheels from spinning wildly on slippery pavements, and wet roads. Sandy uphill slopes were equally tricky to tackle but with traction control system fitted in modern cars the dangers of skidding wheels has mitigated by a considerable length.
Modern vehicles employ electronic control to limit the driver from pushing more power into the wheels, eliminating wheel slip and making the acceleration smoother. Antilock Braking System (ABS) is another function installed in a car that prevents wheels from locking up in hard-braking giving the driver more control of the car. ABS is mostly useful in highways and slippery conditions. Kiran Dangol, Sales Manager, Renault Nepal says “Most of the modern cars are equipped with ABS and traction control.”
See what’s in front
Using phones and talking to a fellow passenger while driving is quite common, as is evident by distracted drivers on the roads. To avoid mishaps, Forward Collision Warning system that works through a pair of sensors installed in the front of the car alerts the driver of an impending collision with a slower moving or stationary car in front. The system uses audible or visual warning on the dash board. Some systems pre-charge the brakes to maximise the braking force of the car to stop immediately. Aashutosh Gautam, Sales Manager, Volkswagen, Pooja International Nepal Pvt Ltd says “Sometimes drivers are distracted which might lead to a collision. Forward Collision Warning system helps avoid just that.” Cars like Volkswagen Tiguan, Peugeot 3008 and Toyota Land cruiser Prado have these features.
The blind spots
Ever been in a situation when you are backing your car and you have to stretch and turn around to see what’s behind you? Blind Spot Monitoring system and back up assists are functions installed in modern day cars to reduce accidents caused due to incoming and overtaking traffic. Several cameras installed on the sides and the rear of the vehicle monitor the surroundings to check if there are any other vehicles or any moving object coming towards you. The system signals the driver through audio or visual warning. Ujjwal KC, Assistant Sales Manager, Peugeot, Sangrila Motors Pvt Ltd says “You can’t see what’s coming right behind you so Blind Spot Monitor signals you to let you know if there is a moving object behind or besides you.” Moreover, these cameras also work as back-up assist and parking assist — it streams the feed while backing up from the camera to the infotainment screen with lines showing the turning radius of the car. Cars like Volkswagen Beetle, Volkswagen Tiguan, Peugeot 3008, Toyota Land cruiser, Peugeot 2008, Renault Duster et cetera have these functions.
Stay between the lines
Drivers going off the lane cause accidents on fast moving highways. To avoid accidents, Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Assist are fitted in most cars today. These functions are typically found in high-end vehicles that help you maintain your lane position and distance from a vehicle in front of you.
KC says “Staying in the lane, adjusting your speed and throttle can be a tedious task especially on long drives. You never know when you are going off the lane and that’s where Lane Departure Assist comes in.” The sensors fitted on the exterior of the vehicle sense the white lines and adjust your steering position accordingly to keep you in your lane. Adaptive Cruise Control helps you maintain a steady speed automatically without you having to adjust your foot. Peugeot 3008, Duster RXZ+, Land Cruiser Prado et ceteraare some of the vehicles that have this function.
A version of this article appears in print on February 27, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.