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Posts from the ‘Car Safety Technology’ Category


MIT Study: READING KILLS (While Driving)

A new study from MIT AgeLab and Monotype has discovered that reading kills. The white coats looked into how different typefaces on dashboard navigation systems affected drivers and their ability to pay attention to the task at hand: driving safely while texting and keeping the kids from poking at one another. 

It turns out that fonts that are more difficult to read can lead to more accidents. The researchers had “square grotesque” font battle “humanist” font. In the study, folks reading the grotesque font had to look at the navigation longer since the font is made up of tightly spaced letters that tend to blend together. About this finding, one lab rat said, “difference in glance time represents approximately 50 feet in distance when traveling at U.S. highway speed.”

The researchers refused to comment on their study of the notorious wingding font or the allegations that all of the study’s subjects had been killed during that part of the research.


Inflatable Seatbelts Not Kool for Kids

Many car child safety-seat makers are warning parents not to strap seats or boosters in with inflatable seat belts.

However, car makers, such as Ford, say that their inflatable seat belts are safe for all rear-seat occupants. Writing about this technology, Ford said in a 2011 press release, “The advanced restraint system is designed to help reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear-seat passengers, often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to such injuries.”  

Inflatable seat belts work by inflating within milliseconds of a crash to reduce the force of the impact upon the occupants’ bodies. Ford claims the belts lessen the force a body receives by 500% or more. 

As of the time of this writing there have been no reports of the belts interfering with the performance of a safety-seat or booster. Some say the seat makers are merely being cautious. Matthew P. Reed, Ph.D., research associate professor and head of University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute’s biosciences group, said, “The child restraint manufacturers are concerned that the energy of the inflating seatbelt could damage the booster or alter its performance in adverse ways. Inflatable belts are not included in U.S. federal regulatory tests of belt-positioning boosters and no standard test procedures are available to determine how they affect safety for children in boosters.”


ABS to be Standard on All BMW Motorcycles

BMW has announced that it is making anti-locking braking systems (ABS) a standard option for all of its motorcycles as part of its Safety 360 plan, a much larger program that focuses on rider safety by offering increased safety technology in the motorcycles themselves, safer riding equipment, and better rider training.  

In addition to being a portion to its Safety 360 initiative, many believe the move is being made in a pre-response to the probable passing of laws that will require all motorcycles in the European Union to be equipped with ABS by 2016. Not only is BMW the first bike maker to make ABS standard on all its bikes, it is also the first to fit ABS on production bikes, something it did in 1988.


New Warp-Free Mirror Eliminates Blind Spots

Cars just keep getting safer and safer. Sometimes the changes are major and something completely new, such as airbags, and sometimes they are an improvement of a safety feature that has been around for some time, such as a new mirror that gives an extremely wide field of view without warping its picture.

This mirror, developed by Drexel University mathematics professor Andrew R. Hicks, eliminates the blind spots that have been a hazard since that first mirror was bolted to racer Ray Harroun’s Indy 500 car in 1911. Hicks’ driver’s side mirror gives a 45 degree view of what is behind a vehicle. This is a huge improvement on the 16-something degrees that the mirrors of today offer.

Talking about how his mirror works, Hicks said it was designed to make use of a new algorithm “so that each ray of light bouncing off the mirror shows the driver a wide, but not-too-distorted, picture of the scene behind him.”

While Hicks already has plans to produce his safe mirror for European and Asian markets, current federal law in the land of the free prevents him, or anyone, from selling mirrors for drivers that are not completely flat.

Thanks to Car Loans Pennsylvania for this tip.


Volvo Tests Self-Driving Cars

Volvo has gone live with its testing of a technology that it has dubbed the Safe Road Trains for the Environment, SARTRE. This society-changing technology is a system consisting of vehicle sensors, adaptive cruise control and forward warning that, when used together, gives driverless cars the ability to follow one another along roads and highways while smart drafting.

As the tests get further along and the technology improves and gets ready for production, vehicles will be equipped with wireless communication capability so that they can communicate with one another as they navigate roads as, what are in effect, road trains.

The Volvo 120-mile live test was performed by a lead truck that was automatically followed by a second truck and two cars. The automaker says that the successful test shows that self-driving technology does indeed work and should, with time, negate the need for drivers to be at the wheel during tedious trips.


Are Black Boxes Coming to All Cars in the U.S.?

The U.S. Senate has just passed a bill that will, if law, require that all new cars from the 2015 model year forward be fitted with black boxes. These boxes, also called event data recorders, will serve a similar purpose as they do in airplanes, let others know what went on with a crashed vehicle.

Thankfully for now, the bill as it is currently written, the data captured by the boxes will be controlled by the vehicle’s owner. The amendment to not grant owners of white vans this same privacy protection failed to make it out of committee. Unfortunately, this privacy is not absolute. Court orders could force owners to give up the information contained within their black boxes.

According to Car and Driver magazine, it is believed that the House of Representatives will pass this latest assault on our freedom. Also, the magazine reported that the Department of Transportation has already declared that black boxes shall record five seconds worth of pre-crash data, including information about speed, braking and airbag deployment.


Top Life-Saving Auto Tech

Good news America, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced that highway deaths are at an all-time low. While there are a number of reasons for this happy drop, from tougher laws and fewer young drivers, perhaps the greatest cause is the spread of life-saving car safety technology.

Some of the newest and most effective safety features are rearview cameras, lane departure warning systems, forward collision warning systems and adaptive headlights.

This year, the camera is offered on 223 models. The NHTSA is recommending that all new cars carry the cameras as standard equipment by 2014. The lane departure warning systems are called by some experts to be the feature that is most likely to save lives. The forward collision warning system uses radar sensors, loud signals, and an adaptive smart cruise control to keep a safe distance between your car and the car in front of you. The special headlights turn as your vehicle turns to give you a well-lit view of where you are headed, as depicted in this BMW adaptive headlight video.


Brake-Override Now Standard on all Hyundai Vehicles

Hyundai has recently announced that a brake override system is now standard equipment on all of its vehicles. Though a welcome development, the move is not all that large of one since all of its vehicles, with the exception of the Elanta Touring, already comes with a brake override system as standard equipment.

Some industry insiders are giggling that the announcement was a way for the South Korean automaker to take a swipe at the Japanese auto-making giant Toyota that continues to wallow in the courts due to unintended acceleration problems that may have led to accidents and deaths in the U.S. Regardless of the motivation for the decision, there is widespread belief that it will prove to be the end of production of the Elantra Touring.


New Safety Technology to Slash Accidents by 80%: NHTSA

The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration says that its five-star crash assessment testing may be modified to reflect the positive impact that new collision avoidance technologies have had on vehicle accidents.

As the technologies, such as lane departure assistance systems and forward collision warning systems, become more commonplace and more effective, experts believe that the national accident numbers will plunge.

Speaking at the Detroit auto show, NHTSA administrator David Strickland said, “Crash-worthiness has been the guiding star for NHTSA [since its formation]. But if there’s an opportunity to prevent a crash—that is the goal.” Strickland added that since 80 per cent of all crashes are caused by driver error, this technology could eventually cut accidents involving non-impaired drivers by 80 percent.

It’s just surprising that these technology has not made the list of top automotive innovations of 2012.  Surely it’s as important, if not much more important, than all of the smartphone connectivity gizmos that are garnering all of the attention at this year’s Detroit Auto Show.


Run Red Lights And You Could Become A Viral Video Star

Finally, someone has found a good use for those ever-watching red light cameras. American Traffic Solutions, the top supplier of red light cameras in the U.S., has started posting online videos of cars speeding through red lights.

The thought is that people will think twice about running red lights if they know that by doing so they may become, albeit against their will, online video stars. “There are so many people that think their time is more valuable than your life,” said Russ Rader, of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in an interview with ABC 7 News, Washington.

Though there remains some controversy over these cameras, with some claiming that they cause rear-end collisions as people quickly stop to avoid having their photos taken, at least one study by the IIHS determined that the cameras have saved lives by reducing the number of deadly accidents in intersections.


Image by samantha celera