Whether you want to protect yourself or your loved ones, driver and passenger safety should be the primary concern of anyone who gets behind the wheel.
At the same time, helping the environment and saving money are at the forefront of many people’s minds. With their recent safety innovations, smart cars are a great way to marry all three of these concerns and mitigate any potential car accident consequences.
Smart cars have seen many revolutionary safety changes, including:
- Hands-free voice control options
- Traffic detection features
- Lane tracing assistance
- Improved heads up display
- Smart braking systems
With all of these safety features at a driver’s disposal, the question becomes: have these improvements made drivers any safer?
Do Smarter Cars Make Safer Drivers?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, improved smart cars have led to a significant increase in safe driving. In 2019 the IIHS published a report showing a drastic reduction in accident and insurance claims, which correlates to the rise in available safety features. This report coincided with a prediction by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that crash statistics will improve further as current safety technology becomes widely adopted.
Several safety features have facilitated these changes, with three being cited as the primary factors in reducing accident incidence: Forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning systems, and adaptive headlights.
- Forward Collision-Avoidance: Using a combination of radar, lasers, and high-tech cameras, forward collision avoidance detects and warns drivers of any objects in front of their car. These objects include pedestrians, cyclists, animals, and other vehicles on the road. The system will give the driver a warning signal if they get too close to an object and are at risk of an accident. Forward collision avoidance often prevents accidents, reducing the overall occurrence of insurance claims.
- Lane Departure Warning Systems: Utilizing a similar set of cameras to forward collision-detection, lane departure warning systems detect the potential for collisions on the left and right side of the vehicle. Engaged when your smart car changes lanes, these systems eliminate the blind spot present in all vehicles by analyzing the changes in lane markings. Lane departure warning systems have been known to reduce the need for insurance claims by preventing lane change collisions.
- Adaptive Headlights: Adaptive headlights are equipped with advanced sensor technology to detect movement in the steering wheel and adjust accordingly. Monitoring both speed and direction, these lights make sure to shine in the direction your car is headed instead of only straight forward. Adaptive lights have been sighted as reducing the chances of property damage, as drivers are more likely to see objects they may have previously hit by accident.
How Crash Avoidance Technology Can Help Your Insurance
These features reduce your chances of getting in an accident and lower the number of insurance claims made. In this way, crash avoidance technology can help reduce your insurance rates by decreasing the likelihood you’ll need to file a claim.
Choosing to have safety features on your car also shows insurers you are a safe driver, and they will usually start to provide additional discounts. Passenger-side airbags, for example, can get you a discount ranging from 3% to 7%. If they are willing to cut you a break for a feature as old as airbags, imagine how much more you can save with the advanced safety features that smart cars now offer.
Your Car Can Keep You Informed About Its Health
Safety isn’t only about your car’s ability to withstand collisions; you also need to keep your vehicle in proper working order to stay safe on the road. While older smart car models were relegated to simple health notifications like a “check engine” light, newer models utilize smartphone apps and Bluetooth technology to keep you more informed than ever before.
You can get full reports on your vehicle health, reminders of upcoming maintenance, and even alerts when you are running low on fuel. Many modern models allow you to access these apps from the in-dash display and use other features like Google and Apple maps. With smart technology, you can find any problems with your car long before they become a disaster and keep your insurance company happy.
Ensuring Safety on the Road
Research has shown that the root cause of most accidents is distracted drivers. Unfortunately, there are just too many ways to pull our focus away from operating our vehicles, and vehicle safety developers are well aware of this. The best way they’ve determined to ensure safety on the road is by automating as many of a car’s functions as possible.
Self-driving cars are one of the more famous examples of this technology, and there are undoubtedly smart cars that have adopted many of these features like smart braking and improved cruise control. Smart braking systems are standard in newer models, which allow the vehicle to apply the brakes on its own when it senses a sudden stop approaching. With improved cruise control features, automated systems can help you accelerate and decelerate to avoid accidents. At some point in the not-so-distant future, full driving automation may be a standard feature in many smart car models.
The Future Will Be Safe But Distracting
Despite the advent of many new safety features, some experts predict that companies may take advantage of the surplus in driver’s attention. With automation controlling a vehicle and allowing the driver to take their focus away from the road, our time could soon be monopolized by advertisements, entertainment, or other diversions. Only time will tell whether this increase in safety will only result in a reduction of accident statistics, or an ever-rising series of new and immersive distractions.