This is the time of the year when the April car buying guide of Consumer Report comes out. I highly advise reading this if you are going to buy a car, either new or used. It is the packed with valuable information.
Newer vehicles are packed with great safety equipment. The “must haves” are antilock brakes (ABS), Electronic stability control (ESC) and air bags including curtain air bags. ABS brakes reduce stopping distance and helps keep the vehicle in control by not allowing the wheels to lock up, ESC helps keep the vehicle from skidding or sliding. Air bags and curtains help save lives in case of an accident.
One of the newest safety equipment is cameras on each side of the rear view mirror that scans the road ahead for hazards, vehicles and reads the painted lines on the road.
The camera’s information is feed into a computer and the outputs include many. This system has the ability to chime a chime, control the throttle, put messages on the display panel, control your cruise control and put on the brakes firmly.
I have this on my car and really enjoyed it. The chime goes off when I get close or over a painted line without using my turn signal is nice. I do need to be reminded to always use my turn signal and that I’m getting close to the painted line on the side of the road. The feature that I really like is the chime and message on the info panel that says, “Car in front has moved”. Yes, at times at a red light, I’m not paying attention that the traffic is moving and I need to accelerate.
I really like the idea that this system can bring the vehicle to a stop quickly without me even touching the brakes while ringing the chimes. This system can prevent a crash and injury. In my 44 years of driving, I have never rear ended a vehicle but it’s nice to know I now have a backup plan.
OK, with the greatness of this system comes other “not so desirable” item. The first big shock was going through a car wash with the engine running to keep it cool on a hot day. As the vehicle was being pulled along into the first set of dangling moving cloths, the brakes were applied firmly. Makes sense, a collision was about the happen, the system had no idea that I was in a car wash. That will only happen once, I tried to explain to the attendant that the car put on the brakes, not me. I hope the attendant will still let me be in the car as it is washed.
The second happens at 4 way stops. To be able to keep the traffic moving quickly, I will go after the car to the right or left has just about cleared the intersection. That car is accelerating and will be out of my way but the system doesn’t know that and will “pause” my ability to accelerate. Yes, it “takes over” the gas pedal. Well, just a fraction of time wasted, I can adjust.
The third is the cruise control that keeps a safe distance in front of you. In traffic that is changing speeds because of moderate traffic, this system can accelerate to keep the distance the same as the vehicle in front is starting to slow, then puts on the brakes as the vehicle in front is starting to speed up. The cruise “oscillates” your speed, speeding up and then applying the brakes. It’s very easy to explain why, the cameras are only watching the vehicle in front of you. With the ability of the human brain, we scan as far ahead as we can see and will let up of the throttle when we see the vehicles in front start to slow down. It is impossible for this system to anticipate the traffic that is in front of the vehicle that is in front of you. With light traffic, this system works very well.
Other great safety equipment is blind spot monitoring so you don’t change lanes into a vehicle, back up cameras and rear sensors so you don’t back into something
All things considered, these systems work great. The ability to be able to prevent one crash is well worth the price.
Looking well into the future, when vehicles in close proximity can “talk” to each other, two of these problems will be taken care of. I don’t think the car wash problem will be though.
Tip by George
- Driving with headlight on makes your vehicle more visible to other drivers. This may just save one life its well worth it. Make sure all your lights are working including all three brake lights. Making your vehicle safer to drive just make sense.