It seems that every year vehicles get smarter and safer. But while the number of highway safety devices in vehicles may be increasing, many motorists are unaware of what they do or how they work. Here are some helpful hints about the highway safety devices you might encounter on your next long drive.
- Airbags: Airbags work by inflating with a chemical to fill the space between passengers and a steering wheel or dashboard during an accident (usually at speeds less than 10 miles per hour). As a result, the passenger’s forward momentum is stopped before their head would hit the airbag.
- Cruise Control: Cruise control systems automatically maintain a vehicle’s speed within a preset range. The system uses sensors to monitor vehicle speed and can automatically slow down or speed up the engine when needed. Some cruise control systems can increase and decrease the vehicle’s set speed without moving the gas pedal, which means that you don’t have to take your foot off of it while you’re driving.
- Emergency Braking Systems: Emergency braking can be activated in some vehicles as a result of an accident, while the car’s standard brakes are still applied to slow and stop the vehicle. Emergency braking can reduce impacts by slowing and stopping your vehicle more quickly than usual.
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC): ESC systems are designed to help drivers avoid oversteering. They use sensors that detect a vehicle’s direction and speed and then use brakes to correct a vehicle’s position. ESC systems don’t always prevent accidents, but they can help you avoid losing control of your vehicle when you are going too fast for your road conditions.
- Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems: TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems) alert you when there is a change in a tire’s air pressure or temperature. Based on your vehicle’s fuel consumption and the current tread on your tires, TPMS systems can help you avoid flat tires during driving conditions that require more than 30 psi (Pounds per Square Inch) of pressure.
- Turn Signal Indicators: Turn signal indicators create an indirect but visible turn signal, which helps you indicate a turn to other vehicles. Some vehicle models (including hybrids) automatically illuminate the turn signal indicator whenever you perform a turn without applying the brakes.
- Trailer Stability Control (TCS): TCS systems are designed to help a trailer maintain its position while the tow vehicle is turning or braking. TCS automatically controls trailer positioning by applying brakes if necessary when a trailer begins to slide.
- Vibration Controls: Vibration systems are designed to detect an imminent collision and/or impact in your vehicle. They provide warnings to help you maintain control of your vehicle. They can also trigger your vehicle’s brakes to reduce your speed and help you avoid a collision.
- Rearview Cameras: These cameras allow you to see behind your vehicle without turning around. They can increase safety by reducing rear-end accidents caused by drivers failing to check their surroundings or backing up too closely. Some rearview cameras are now available on the left side of vehicles for additional visibility.
- Lane Departure Warning Systems: LDWS systems alert you and the vehicle’s brakes if you unintentionally steer your vehicle into another lane. They can also be used to prevent lane changes by providing a warning when you’re entering into another lane too quickly.
- Blind Spot Monitoring Systems: Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) systems are designed to help drivers identify the vehicles (and objects) in their blind spots. They provide visual alerts and audible warnings (with optional beeps) whenever a vehicle or object is detected within a vehicle’s blind spot.
To date, the latest technologies have been introduced into the market, and every vehicle manufacturer has turned these technologies into a system that works perfectly without any glitches. The technology itself is mature enough to be integrated in the vehicle’s control unit. It has been tested properly and is proving to be completely reliable. It is also durable enough to last for many years.