When it comes to drivers staying safe on the road, there’s no substitute for buckling up, avoiding distractions, and never drinking and driving. But even if you’re already a safe driver, today’s cars and trucks now come with driver assistance technologies that can lend a helping hand.
For several years, vehicles have come with cameras and sensors that help drivers see more than they can with the naked eye and warn of a possible collision. These driver assistance technologies are the foundation of even more advanced features that can not only see more than another driver but also act faster to prevent crashes.
For example, backup cameras, which will be standard on all new vehicles starting in May, have long provided drivers with a better view behind their vehicles. Today’s new vehicles now make backing up safer by warning of vehicles approaching from out of sight and by applying the brakes to prevent backing up into other vehicles or objects.
Similarly, systems that provide an audible warning of a forward collision have advanced to features that will apply the brakes or increase braking power to avoid a crash. Technology that warns when a vehicle is drifting out of its lane has matured into lane centering assistance that will automatically steer the vehicle back into its lane.
We’re witnessing a progression from safety features that can help drivers detect and avoid dangers, toward vehicle systems that will act on their own to prevent crashes. In the not-too-distant future, additional computing power, sensors and cameras will help support Automated Driving Systems (ADS), more commonly referred to as “self-driving” or automated vehicles, and might be able to take over all aspects of driving, which could greatly reduce motor vehicle crashes and their resulting deaths and injuries. In 2016 alone, 37,461 people died in motor vehicle crashes. NHTSA is working to support companies that are developing and testing these advanced vehicles in order to save lives.
Fully automated vehicles remain years away from being available to the public. Safety behind the wheel still rests with each of us and the choices we make. But today’s driver assistance technologies can give a safe driver an extra edge out on the road.