Most conversations about technology and cars don’t shine tech in the best light. Discussions tend to linger on the increasing rate of distracted drivers and how devices like smartphones are to blame. Road safety is a serious issue, but auto tech might be the solution, not the problem.
We may not have fully autonomous cars yet, but driving technology has come a long way in a short time. If you know what to look for, you can get plenty of features, gadgets, and apps to keep you safe. Here are 10 examples of road safety tech you can get today.
1. Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
Fast reaction speed is a must for safe driving. Sometimes things happen too fast, though, and you can’t brake on time. Automatic emergency braking can take care of that for you.
These systems sense potential collisions and brake automatically if you don’t respond in time. Sensors don’t get distracted, and machines react far faster than humans do. AEB’s safety potential is hard to ignore, so many new cars today come with it either built-in or as an option.
2. Lane-Departure Warning (LDW)
LDW alerts you if you start crossing into another lane without using your turn signal. That way, if you’re tired or distracted, your car will warn you if you begin to drift without realizing it. If all vehicles came with LDW, it would’ve prevented more than 55,000 injuries in 2015.
At high speeds, you may not realize you’re in another lane until it’s too late, but LDW auto tech prevents that. Some cars even have lane-keep assist, which automatically adjusts the steering if it senses you drifting.
3. Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
Forward collision warning uses the same concept as LDW but applies it to oncoming collisions. If the system senses a possible crash, it will warn you with sound, lights or even vibrations. This alert makes you pay attention so you can brake or steer to avoid crashing.
FCW can reduce forward collisions by 27%, according to a 2017 study. When combined with AEB, this number jumps up to 50%. That means that if everyone had FCW and AEB auto tech, we could prevent more than 400,000 injuries a year.
Bluetooth has been a common feature in cars for some time now. People mostly think of it as a convenience, but it can be a useful safety tool. Yes, it’s handy to play music off your phone wirelessly, but Bluetooth allows for hands-free texting and calling, too.
Most Bluetooth-enabled cars have steering wheel buttons to answer or ignore phone calls. Using these, along with the connection to your car’s sound system, you can make calls without taking your hands off the wheel.
If you happen to get into an accident, filing an insurance claim can take a long time. If you have a dashboard camera, it will speed up the process by helping establish liability. The footage will help you get the insurance payout you deserve and get it quickly.
Dashcams aren’t just valuable for insurance purposes, either. Rising usage encourages people to drive safely to avoid legal trouble. When people know others could be recording them, they won’t drive as aggressively.
6. AT&T DriveMode
Phones are often sources of distraction for drivers, but many smartphone apps can help reduce distraction. One of the best of these is AT&T DriveMode. This free app works on both Apple and Android and silences notifications when you go more than 15 mph.
You can even set it to send automatic text replies to let people know you’re driving. The app has special features for parents, as well. They can set it to alert them if their child turns the app off.
7. iOS 11
Smartphones themselves have car safety features built-in nowadays. With iOS 11, your iPhone has a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” function you can find in your settings. This will turn off notifications while you drive.
Like AT&T DriveMode, Do Not Disturb While Driving can send automated text replies. You can either turn this feature on manually or set it to activate automatically when your phone senses you’re driving.
You don’t need an iPhone to use automatic safe driving services. Drivemode, not to be confused with AT&T DriveMode, is an Android app that silences notifications and offers voice controls. On top of reading texts, voice controls can work with your music and navigation.
Drivemode also changes the interface on your phone to make it less distracting. It allows you to perform tasks on your phone with just a swipe or tap, so you spend less time looking at the screen.
LifeSaver offers do-not-disturb functions and tracking services for families and fleets. The app automatically blocks notifications and tracks safe driving. When a driver arrives at their destination, the app sends an update to parents or managers.
Using the LifeSaver Driver Portal, users can check how many times drivers unlocked their phone or turned off the app. The app even allows users to set up monthly rewards for safe driving. LifeSaver is available on both iPhone and Android for free.
10. Drive Smart
Some apps, like Drive Smart, focus on improving your driving skills, not just removing distractions. The app, available on both Apple and Android phones, tracks things like your speed, braking and turning. Using this information, it can provide you with tips to become a better driver.
You may regularly practice poor driving techniques without knowing it. Drive Smart will highlight these areas of improvement so you can fix potentially risky habits.
Safe driving with technology
Driving can be dangerous, but it’s far less risky than it used to be. Car crashes are less frequent and less fatal now than they were for much of history. With improved technology, driving will continue to become safer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drive carefully.
Even with advanced tech, you can’t rely on machines to do everything. However, through smart driving practices and using these technologies, you can make the road a safer place.