Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times came out with a new report that focuses on the many active safety features available on modern vehicles. While we’re still not in a world where the roads are filled with automobiles that can take over driving for us completely, it’s becoming clear that such an age is getting here sooner rather than later.
The author relates his experiences behind the wheel of an S550 Mercedes equipped with the company’s latest active safety technologies. While piloting down the 101 Freeway, he was able to completely remove his hands from the wheel and let the onboard computer take over driving and speed control. Then, when the driver’s input was required, the system flashed an icon and he was able to seize back control.
Systems like these are becoming increasingly common, and early indicators show that they could be remarkably beneficial for highway safety. The Highway Data Loss Institute says that the availability of collision avoidance systems has led to a 14% reduction in property damage claims associated with Acura and Mercedes vehicles. Property damage claims among other types of automobiles equipped with active safety features have also dropped.
However, there are drawbacks to such systems at this moment in time, one of which is price. For the Mercedes mentioned above, consumers will have to fork over around $100,000. And depending on the system a consumer seeks on a given model of vehicle, the technology could add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the price tag. There are also technical snafus that may need to be worked out to avoid driver irritation.