As you may have heard, the East Coast and Midwest are primed for yet another winter storm. After being pummeled by snow and ice this year, many US residents are fearful to take to the roads. It’s no secret that winter takes the fun out of driving and can even make it dangerous. With snow and ice covering the road, your vehicle may be unstable when driven at high speeds and outside visibility may be limited.
However, a number of advanced car technologies can help you drive with more confidence, during the winter and throughout the year. Below are five of those technologies.
Lane-departure Warning and Prevention System
Like the name suggests, a lane-departure warning system will issue a warning when you depart from your lane. The system monitors lane markings on the road and will initiate a seat or steering wheel vibration when you start steering off your lane. Other vehicles produce visual or audible warnings.
Examples of the systems are found in Volvo, Mercedes and Buick. In these vehicles, the warning systems prevent lane departure by automatically adjusting the steering wheel and using slight braking.
Adaptive headlights improve outside visibility of dark, curved roads. While the headlights are not very common in vehicles like other safety features, they help to improve visibility in rain or fog.
A good example of the headlights is found in BMWs. The adaptive headlights use sensors to measure the steering angle and the speed of the car. Small electric motors in the headlights are then adjusted to fall directly on the road ahead based on the information received by the sensors.
Studies show that the adaptive headlights on Volvo, Mercedes, Mazda, and Acura helped to reduce property damage claims by up to 10 percent.
These systems use various types of sensors, including light detection and ranging, radar and cameras to detect vehicles in front of you. When you approach a danger zone, a warning alert goes off. After the alert, the car may brake automatically.
Most forward-collision avoidance systems pre-charge the brakes to produce maximum effect when you respond. Other systems will brake the car automatically even if you do not respond. A report by the US Highway Loss Data Institute shows that SUVs fitted with Volvo’s City Safety feature have a 27 percent lower chance of property damage liability claims.
Antilock brakes now come standard in all vehicles produced after 2012. The braking system is part of an electronic stability control system and uses sensors to monitor the speeds at which every wheel rotates when you engage the brakes. If a wheel locks up, the electronic control unit will apply and release braking pressure multiple times per second.
Antilock brakes help to prevent the vehicle from skidding when you brake on slippery roads. To effectively use the brakes, you have to step firmly on them.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
ESC is one of the most important vehicle safety features for winter driving. When the road is slippery due to snow or ice, ESC helps prevent loss of control and spinout crashes through its sensors that monitor steering. ESC will enable you to maintain control of the car by modulating engine power or applying brakes.
ESC helps to reduce crashes. A study by the US Highway Loss Data Institute found that SUV crashes were reduced by 49% thanks to ESC.
Want to learn more about how car technology is evolving? Check out our latest e-book, Apple iCar: Inside Apple’s Entry into the Auto Industry!