Car safety technology

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Technology that improves safety and reduces the likelihood of an accident has always been a priority for the motor industry and the consumer. We take a look at six recent innovative safety features that are available in car models today.

People driving newer cars are less likely to be killed or seriously injured in a car accident than those driving older cars, the Transport Accident Commission has found. The data compared crash data from cars manufactured between 2003 and 2005 and those made in 1980, and found that occupants in the newer cars were on average around 45% less likely to be killed or seriously injured than those in the older vehiclesi.

Reversing cameras can prevent accidents caused by blind spots.

More modern vehicles also perform better in crashesi, indicating that additional and improved safety features of contemporary cars are a contributing factor in the nationwide decline in road fatalities and injuries. Here are six key features that make a modern car safer, and should be taken into consideration when you're looking to buy a new, safe vehicle.

Blind spot warning system

Now offered in many new cars is a blind spot warning system. Using such technology as reversing camerasii or motion sensors around the car, these measures can help prevent accidents in a situation where a driver's view is obstructed or when manoeuvring into a tight parking space for example (these may be marketed as "parking assist" features)iii. These features detect the distance and speed of objects surrounding a vehicle, and notify the driver by offering auditory or visual alertsiii.

Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA)

To curb speeding and the associated dangers, Intelligent Speed Assist (or Adaptation) (ISA) technology is a feature that can alert a driver if they are exceeding the speed limit of the road they are driving along. It uses GPS technology linked to a speed zone databaseiv, and if the ISA calculates the vehicle's speed as higher than the road's limit, it will alert the driver with a sound or a visual warningiv. ISA can also limit the speed of a car if it detects that it is travelling too fast for the posted speed limit by changing the throttle signal going to the car's computer, and placing pressure on the accelerator, making it harder to accelerateiv.

Daytime Running Lights (DRL)

Daytime Running Lights (DRL) can decrease a vehicle's susceptibility to accidents by making it more visible during the dayv. DRL are found beneath the headlights and switch on when the vehicle is running to increase other drivers' peripheral observation of vehicles and to make it easier for drivers to estimate the distance between vehiclesv. They can be especially useful for dark coloured cars that are not easily seen at dawn or sunset.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Electronic Stability Control (ESC), also known as Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Active Stability Control (ASC) or Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)vi is a safety mechanism, which decreases the danger of skidding or losing control of your vehicle as a result of over-steeringvii. ESC is activated by computer-controlled technology whenever a driver loses control of their carvii. ESC combines individual brakes, anti-lock braking systems and traction control in order to help the driver regain control of their vehicle, without the danger of fish-tailingvii. This feature, although it has been around for a while, has been recognised as highly effective and will become a feature of all models from November 2013, as mandated by the Federal Governmentviii.

Don't risk it: make use of new technologies to stay safe and within the law.

Smartphone hands-free connectivity systems

Recent technological innovation in the area of smartphone hands-free connectivity coincides with new state legislationix which restricts the use of a mobile phone while driving. In order to keep drivers' eyes on the road, voice control acts to prevent distraction while still being able to perform tasks such as texting, calling, getting directions, viewing maps and much more.

One example of a recent innovation in this field is the 'hands-free text messaging assistant'. This device enables the driver to access and respond to text messages through a system that reads the text message aloud and allows the driver to respond by either voice command or by pushing a button installed on the steering wheel that can send pre-set text such as 'running late' or 'driving, can't textx.'

Safety is priority when it comes to buying and driving a car. This is why many automakers strive to respond to growing demands and concerns shared by government road safety authorities and consumers.

i How safe is your car, 2013, Safety Features,

ii How safe is your car, 2013, Reversing Camera,

iii How safe is your car, 2013, Blindspot Warning System,

iv How safe is your car, 2013, , Intelligent Speed Assist,

v How safe is your car, 2013, Daytime Running Lights,

vi Australasian New Car Assessment Program, 2010, Understanding Car Safety Features,

vii How safe is your car, 2013, Electronic Stability Control,

viii Australasian New Car Assessment Program, 2009, Government Mandate of ESC Welcomed by ANCAP,

ix Roads and Maritime Services (NSW), 2012, Mobile Phone Use,

x Forbes, 2013, Eight ‘Killer New-Car App’ Features for 2013,