Vehicle Safety Systems

The latest vehicle-safety systems may help you avoid a crash.

Modern cars have crumple zones, airbags, seatbelt pretensioners and whiplash-reducing headrests. They’re commonplace to help disperse crash energy and minimise or eliminate injuries in serious crashes, something that has been instrumental in slashing the national road toll by more than half over the past 30 years.
But in the past decade the focus has turned to avoiding crashes, by fitting so-called active safety systems. While some active safety features have been around for a while, with anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) helping control skids and slides, the latest systems use cameras and radars that can react faster and more reliably than the driver.


This acronym denotes autonomous emergency braking, which will automatically slam on the brakes when the system detects another object ahead. AEB is common now on mainstream models, although the systems can vary enormously. The more sophisticated AEB systems see through fog and rain to more accurately interpret everything from other vehicles to pedestrians and cyclists.

A vehicle might contain one or more of these types of AEB systems:

• Low speed: This version targets city driving where crashes often occur at low speeds but can cause debilitating injuries such as whiplash. These systems use cameras or lasers to look for the reflectivity of other vehicles and are not as sensitive to pedestrians or roadside objects.

• High speed: These systems utilise long-range radar to scan further ahead of the vehicle (up to 200 metres) at higher speeds.

• Pedestrian systems: These versions typically use a camera combined with radar to detect pedestrians by their shape and characteristics. The way pedestrians move relative to the path of the vehicle is calculated to determine whether they are in danger of being struck.

• Reversing AEB: A more recent development, reversing AEB is designed to brake the vehicle when it is about to strike an object while reversing. This includes pedestrians as well as inanimate items.

Blind-spot warning
While modern cars have improved in almost every area, vision is one area where they have gone backwards, as more fashionable designs and safer structures conspire to obscure the driver’s view. Technology has come to the rescue, though, with sensors positioned in the mirrors or bumpers on the lookout for vehicles outside the driver’s view. A warning light in or near the exterior mirrors as well as audible warnings will alert you to any potential issues. More advanced systems can provide mild steering assistance to reduce the chances of an impact. Manufacturers are even developing these systems to look out for cyclists when the car is stationary.
Rear cross-traffic alert
Great for reversing out of driveways or parallel parking spots, rear cross-traffic alert uses rear radars to monitor traffic approaching from either side. Warnings are usually flashed up on the infotainment screen with an audible warning to alert you to approaching vehicles. Many rear cross-traffic alert systems will also apply the brakes to stop the car from continuing on its crash course.
Active cruise control
Cars that maintain a set speed have been around since the 1950s, but newer active cruise control systems use a radar to maintain a set distance to the car in front. The distance can be adjusted between various levels.
Lane-departure warning
A forward-facing camera or laser sensor monitors lane markings to determine when the car is wandering out of its lane. Warnings will typically involve beeps or vibrations of the steering wheel or seat, encouraging the driver to take corrective action.

Steering assist
An extension of lane-departure warning, steering-assist systems provide gentle steering assistance to help keep the car in its lane. At the very least they can help reduce fatigue by assisting with physical driving duties and, more seriously, they can prevent the car running off the road. However, steering assist systems aren’t perfect so it’s imperative the driver still focuses and controls the vehicle.

Brake assist
The difference between having a crash and avoiding one can often be a few metres, which is the sort of distance brake-assist systems can knock off an emergency braking situation. The car’s computer monitors pedal movements to predict a potential emergency. Usually it involves a very quick movement from the throttle to brake pedal, something hard to replicate without an emergency reaction. As soon as you touch the brake having jumped off the accelerator the car almost instantly brings the brake system up to its maximum level, providing maximum braking almost instantly.

SOURCE: RACV – Author Toby Hagon

7 Interesting Car Facts

We have found some interesting car facts. Check out the 7 ones we found most intriguing.

1. Car dashboards were originally designed to prevent mud from splattering the driver of a horse-drawn carriage.

2. The year 1886 is considered to be the birth of the modern car. In that year, German inventor Carl Benz built a modern automobile called the Benz Patent-Motorwagen.

3. Inventor Mary Anderson (1866-1953) invented the first effective windshield wiper. They were initially considered a distraction.

4. In Christopher Nolan’s film Batman, Bruce Wayne drives a Lamborghini Murcielago. In Spanish, Murcielago means, “bat.”

5. For many cars, the “new car smell” is actually toxic. It is composed of over 50 volatile organic compounds.

6. The BMW logo derives from the company’s origin as an airplane manufacturer. The now iconic blue and white “target sign” represents a spinning white propeller against a blue sky.

7. Approximately 5 months of a person’s life is spent waiting in a car at red lights.


SOURCE: Fact Retreiver

Technology for Country Roads

The RACV has written a piece on using technology to help improve safety on country roads. We hope you find this an interesting read.

Innovative technology will reduce crashes at high-speed rural intersections which claim the most lives on Victoria’s regional roads, according to RACV and other road safety experts.
A new variable speed-limit system on highways is triggered by sensors that detect cars approaching from side roads and temporarily reduce the highway speed from 100kmh to 70kmh. One of the first sets of electronic ‘side road activated speed signs’ is now on the Glenelg Highway in the Western District, with plans for about another 30 dangerous rural intersections.

In the past five years, 70 per cent of fatal intersection crashes in regional Victoria happened on high-speed roads, and the risk increased where minor side roads met main roads.
Emily McLean, RACV roads and traffic senior engineer, says the reduced highway speed-limit sign is only active when cars are sensed on side roads, so do not cause unnecessary delays to highway traffic by imposing permanent lower speed limits. She says lower highway speeds significantly reduce the severity of a crash if it happens.

“Where you have side roads meeting high-speed main roads, it’s a recipe for disaster,” Emily says.
She says the new system improves safety by warning highway drivers there is traffic approaching from a side road while allowing motorists on side roads a safer opportunity to join the highway traffic. 
Scott Lawrence, director of the Safe System Road Infrastructure Program, Regional Roads Victoria, says intersections in regional areas are high-risk.
“It can be difficult for drivers to find a break in the traffic to turn across or onto a main road – and if a crash does unfortunately occur, the impact at such high speeds can be devastating,” he says.
We’re installing this new technology to reduce both the likelihood and severity of crashes at these intersections, to prevent serious injuries and save lives.

“We’re installing this new technology to reduce both the likelihood and severity of crashes at these intersections, to prevent serious injuries and save lives.”
His organisation, along with the Transport Accident Commission, is spending $350,000 per site out of a $1.4 billion ‘Towards Zero Action Plan’ budget to reduce Victoria’s road toll to less than 200 by 2020.
The new technology is “exciting”, according to Dr Blair Turner, a chief technology leader at the Australia Road Research Board (ARRB) and member of the Australasian College of Road Safety’s executive committee.
He says the technology was first introduced in Sweden, and then New Zealand from 2012, where two studies showed reductions of up to 89 per cent in fatal and serious crashes.
He says the ARRB has conducted multiple trials of the technology around Australia and found its success was “staggering” compared to more costly and complex infrastructure measures.

A New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman says original trials of the technology at 10 New Zealand rural intersections showed a significant drop in fatal and serious crashes and a 51 per cent drop in the overall crash rate.

David Moloney, the Southern Grampians Shire director of infrastructure, and acting sergeant Darren Smart of the Hamilton Highway Patrol, support the initiative and are waiting on preliminary findings on the Dunkeld site.

SOURCE – RACV – Author Sue Hewitt