Potholes litter the path to the crash-less car

Thursday 5 July 2012, 8:53AM
By Dog & Lemon Guide

Cars that can detect and prevent accidents are a here-and-now reality, but they’re far from perfect, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson says:

“The problem with all this high tech stuff is that it’s designed in a laboratory, and doesn’t always work properly in the real world.”

For example, a 2008 study suggested that lane-departure warning systems, which alert a driver when he is straying from his chosen lane, could reduce deaths by 15%.

However, a recent real-world study by the respected American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that: “lane departure warning systems from Buick and Mercedes appeared to have the opposite of their intended effect.”

That is, the cars fitted with the lane-departure systems had higher rates of accidents than cars without them.

Matthew-Wilson says that some systems have been clear winners when it comes to saving lives.

“Electronic Stability Control saves lives by helping the driver retain control in emergency situations. Every study shows this, and ESC is particularly effective at helping to prevent vehicles rolling over.”

“Adaptive headlights, which help a driver see around a curve in the dark, have also been proven to reduce accidents significantly.”

Matthew-Wilson cautions that it is dangerous to blindly rely on high technology when driving.

“Collision avoidance systems are a great idea, but they’re not perfect.”

“Not long ago, Volvo was showing off how its new S60 car that could anticipate and avoid a rear-end collision with a parked truck: except it didn’t. The S60 slammed into the back of the truck and was wrecked.”

“A similar thing happened during a demonstration of Volvo’s pedestrian avoidance system. This system detects a person in front of the car and brakes the vehicle automatically. Except that, in several embarrassing public displays, the car ran over the test dummy.”


Matthew-Wilson adds:

“The other big question is: what happens when this fancy technology fails, as it did in the two Volvo demonstrations? Who gets the blame: the car or the driver?”

And what about the driverless car, one that lets the occupants sit in comfort while they’re driven to their destination?

Matthew-Wilson smiles:

“I can now reveal that this technology has already been perfected and is daily use. It’s called a train.”

Release ends.

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