Buying a new or used car means taking in to account a number of factors. The price, obviously; it has to fit in the budget and it has to do the functions required by the buyer. It may be that economy or performance is paramount. Perhaps, after those long winter evenings, a lot of children seem to have been accumulated or maybe it needs to be able to carry loads from time to time; whatever, the car purchased generally is the car that is needed.
It also has to have safety features. These are usually designated by various mysterious acronyms; ABS, ATC, EBD, ESP and so on. Most car buyers are vaguely aware of this stuff and accept that if those initials appear then the car should be safe. What we don’t know is how.
Some older readers may remember the introduction of compulsory seat belts. What a fuss! With hindsight it seems that drivers felt they were being compelled to drive naked or wearing a clown’s nose. History has shown that seat belts work though and it is clear that innumerable lives have been saved or injuries mitigated thanks to these irritating straps. These days we pull them on without thinking.
It’s the same with airbags. Nobody wants the airbag shock although there are no doubt plenty of people who are glad it happened. We are further saved by sophisticated crumple zones (which is very interesting technology if you have a few hours) and head restraints.
It’s a sad fact of life that people still die on our roads but this can’t be blamed on car manufacturers. Either voluntarily or through regulation the boffins keep coming up with all manner of technologies which these days is largely based around sensors, radar and increasingly, LiDAR. This latter is a method that measures distance to a target by illuminating that target with pulsed laser light and measures the reflected pulses with a sensor. It is common to autonomous car technology in that it stops driverless cars from bumping into each other, hopefully.
Arguably the most irritating of the current crop of bleeping or nudging devices, this uses sensors to detect cars in a vehicle’s blind spot and if the driver tries to shift into a lane that is occupied Lane Keeping uses the vehicle’s steering to nudge it back into its lane. It can be over-ridden if the driver makes a judgement that it is safe to manoeuvre, but it’s a mistake to turn it off.
Many cars today are fitted with a lane-departure warning system. Much the same as Lane Keeping, sensors know when the car is drifting across lanes (unless the indicators are deployed) suggesting that the driver isn’t paying attention or is dozing off. These sensors activate a light or audible warning somewhere in the view or hearing of the driver. Some can be really irritating and are loud enough to be alarming and frightening passengers into thinking they are about to attacked by helicopter gunships. It can be turned off but remember, this kit has been around for a while now and has been shown conclusively to save lives.
Motor manufacturers can now install technology that can tell if a driver is sleepy. Some measure eye-blink rate which means a camera is trained upon the driver, others monitor the car’s behaviour. Either way, this has been proved to work and alert motorists to take a break.
There’s lots of this high-tech equipment these days: Active cruise control, cross-traffic alerts, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection and much more. A lot of it is annoying; all of it works. When purchasing a car it is worth looking further past the paint and the leather interior and the ‘infotainment’ to consider how best the occupants of the car can be protected. That’s why at eCars247 all our one-owner cars
come with a full AA inspection
and a fortnight’s ‘no quibble’ test drive