A new article reviews the many types of safety systems that can be found on all sorts of higher end vehicles. However, some wonder about the efficacy of such technologies when their high price point discourages all but the wealthiest of consumers from purchasing the vehicles equipped with the systems.
For instance, one can buy a Lexus that includes a radar and high definition cameras that may be used to help a driver identify upcoming obstacles. The system can then react before the driver does by pressing the brakes or making the steering more responsive. But this system comes with a price: $6,500, and the vehicle itself will run a consumer about $70,000.
The Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board worries that safety technologies will become the purview of our nation’s richest citizens, a concern somewhat refuted by a Toyota representative who says that the development process is a costly proposition. Over time, he says the technology will become cheaper.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently looking into a rule that would require crash avoidance technology on all new vehicles, but the Administrator of the agency says they need to study the data to determine how valuable such systems truly are. Until that time, one can expect things like the Lexus system, Honda’s Lane Watch technology, and GM’s centers airbags to only be found on higher end vehicles.
Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly common all along the roads, and such automobiles are largely seen as a safe and efficient way to get to one’s destination without busting the bank on gas or contributing to the deterioration of the environment. But there’s one assumedly positive factor that has been increasingly looked upon as a negative: the relative silence of these vehicles.
When an electric vehicle travels along the road, it’s hard for pedestrians and cyclists in the area to discern its presence. We tend to take for granted how much we rely on audible cues to pick up on our environment.
In 2010, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act was passed, and thanks to that law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been able to put together a rule that would mandate noises in otherwise silent electric vehicles. The proposal would make it so that any electric automobile going less than 18 miles per hour would have to emit noise so that people in the area would be clued in to the vehicle.
Some vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf or the Fisker Karma, already have such safety measures, but the NHTSA figures that making noises mandatory across the board would cut the number of yearly injuries by the thousands. Automakers will have a choice of what sounds they want their vehicles to make.
A new article discusses the prevalence of companies touting the latest and greatest safety features of automobiles at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. One such company that looks to revolutionize vehicle safety is QNX, a software firm. That company is looking into the possibility of placing a GPS on the dashboard as opposed to the central console so as to minimize the possibility of distraction. Distraction would be similarly curtailed with the company’s Bluetooth syncing system currently in development. Subaru was on hand at the trade show to talk about Eyesight, which aims to alert drivers to the presence of nearby obstacles thanks to onboard cameras.
For more about the safety features on hand, click here.
When we’re in the midst of traffic and another automobile suddenly imperils our safety, we have recourse: the car horn. All a driver has to do is slam down on the horn (and maybe the brakes), and the other driver will hopefully be alerted to the presence of another vehicle and instinctively adjust their driving behavior accordingly. But one section of the population that doesn’t have the option to honk their horn is cyclists.
That could all change, though, now that a research engineer based in the Boston area has introduced something called Loud Bicycle. This is basically a horn that can be attached to bicycles so that the persons on the backs of those bicycles can alert drivers when they are about to collide with them. The inventor said that many times, a driver won’t notice a cyclist until it’s too late, and simply yelling isn’t sufficient to get the motor vehicle operator’s attention.
The inventor thus set out to create a prototype that would act for bikes how other horns act for cars. A high and low pitched tone combine to alert other drivers similar to how a horn on a compact car would operate. The low pitch allows it to travel through windows and alert the driver effectively.
The state of California is set to consider new rules that could change the way regulators perceive e-hailing services and the safety of such.
The proliferation of such services has been ongoing every since smartphones and tablets have become a part of our daily lives. Uber, SideCar, Lyft and other services like them work by way of something referred to as e-hailing. Basically, persons in need of a ride can look to their phones to see if a qualified driver is in the area. If there is, they can hail that nearby driver and receive a ride.
Until now, the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees charter-party carriers, has looked unfavorably upon the services. The recent months have seen the agency submitting cease and desist letters to the companies and citing them for violations with fines in the tens of thousands of dollars.
That perception could now change, though, as the CPUC has vowed to revisit the issue, seeking to strike a balance between progress and ensuring rider safety. They will seek comments from the public for the next month and then take these comments into account while they attempt arrive at a decision, which will likely be issued in the following months. New York and Washington DC have similarly looked at the issue recently and changed their laws accordingly.
The e-hailing service companies have long stated that they are safe.
Event data recorders, or as most people might know them, black boxes, have been a fixture of airplanes for years due to their ability to give investigators an accurate representation of the events that led to a crash. A couple years ago, Congress looked into the possibility of passing a law that would mandate these systems on all new automobiles, but a consensus could not be reached.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration thus took up the matter, and the White House Office of Management and Budget has just given its approval to the proposed measure. The move paves the way for regulations to be enacted in the early part of 2013.
There are certain privacy issues that must first be taken into consideration, according to a spokesperson with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. Many states currently require approval from the court before data can be obtained from the recorders, and many would like to see such measures kept in place to ensure privacy once the devices are made mandatory.
Privacy considerations aside, though, consumers should realize that these black boxes already come standard on most new automobiles. Vehicle manufacturers typically have to put in a request with the car owner before they can access the recorded data.
The benefits of black boxes should not be underestimated. When reports of Toyotas accelerating out of control were circulating through the news, for instance, many of the incidents were reportedly found to result from driver error.
A cardboard bicycle was unveiled not long ago, but apparently that was just the tip of the iceberg. Now, a student from the Royal College of Art has designed a cardboard bike helmet that might even be safer than helmets currently on the market. Drawing inspiration from the head structure of a woodpecker, the creator has put together a device that can reportedly absorb three times as much energy and weighs an average of 15% less than most bicycle helmets. The helmet uses a honeycomb-like design in order to achieve these kinds of specs. Whereas most helmets can’t flex in order to receive more of the impact of a crash, the cardboard structure has no such limitations. The hope is that the helmet will be available for sale by the end of the year.
Click here for more about the cardboard bike helmet.
The ninth annual Design Challenge was hosted at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and it provides a unique glimpse into what the future of automotive technology may hold. The big takeaway from this year was the number of people who believe that the future of traffic law enforcement will hinge on autonomous vehicles, basically drones that can monitor California roadways as soon as 2025. Honda came up with a concept known as the California Highway Patrol Drone Squad, wherein different types of four wheel and two wheel drones could be used for various enforcement and rescue purposes. BMW came up with a system where an officer could deploy a ground or air drone to chase after vehicles and bring them to a halt via electromagnetic pulse.
For more about the contest, click here.
A new report details an app that aims to impede a driver’s ability to send and receive text messages behind the wheel. Known as TextBuster, the app requires a module placed beneath the dashboard. The app works in conjunction with this module to use Bluetooth signals to stop any texts from coming in or going out while a person is driving. Such technology reportedly only affects the driver of the vehicle. In addition, the app keeps track of driving habits and history, and even lets parents know if their teen has attempted to turn off the app. The app has a price tag of at least $179.
Click here to learn more about the technology.
Highway safety remains vital as we enter an age where technology can protect us in ways that haven’t been possible before. However, some of those systems have not been implemented in a rapid enough manner, and the National Transportation Safety Board would like to see that change.
The NTSB just released a list of the ten safety improvements they would like to see made by new vehicles. This list is compiled each year by the organization, but what’s unique about this year is the fact that never before has the NTSB directly addressed lawmakers and government officials and called upon new technologies to be implemented on every new automobile to come off a production line.
A letter sent to the current administration detailed the NTSB’s concerns. Among those systems they they could prove beneficial are those that might be available in certain high-end automobiles now but are not commonplace across the country. The systems include things like forward collision warning, electronic stability control, lane departure warnings, and other things that the NTSB says could cut down on numerous highway accidents. According to them, 60% of traffic fatalities are the result of lane changes, lane departures, and rear end collisions, the very types of accidents that would be limited with the tech.
Whether your car has these systems or not, safety should remain paramount on the road. You can’t always rely on safety systems, especially with older models, so be sure that you’re always aware of your surroundings so as to protect vehicle occupants.