Many new cars today come with safety features as standard. However, there are also many cars where additional safety features are optional add-ons at the buyer’s expense. Jaime Jackson Law advocates that safety should not be an option. If technology exists that would make our roads and all of us safer, that technology should be included.
This article helps drivers understand key terms relating to new car safety features to consider when buying a car. In addition, helpful online resources have been included so drivers can carry out further research.
Acceleration, braking, and pre-collision systems
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC): automatically controls the distance between vehicles as well as the vehicle’s speed in order to maintain a safe distance from the car in front. Adaptive cruise control can adjust acceleration and braking to control speed. Confusingly, ACC has at least 20 other names, used by different manufacturers, such as: dynamic radar control; smart cruise control; distance pilot; and distance assist. Nevertheless, they all perform the same function.
Forward Collision Warning (FCW): alerts the driver about a potential collision with another car or object in front of it. The driver is alerted through a visual, audible, or tactile alert to apply the brakes. Depending on the manufacturer of the vehicle, forward collision warning systems use a camera or radar located in the front of the vehicle to detect distances and speed.
Automatic Emergency Braking System (AEBS): activates a car’s brakes automatically when the camera or radar for the forward collision warning system detects a potential collision. When the FCW system determines that the distance between vehicles or an object in road is too short, AEB works without the driver having to touch the brakes. In addition, AEB can engage partial braking and also increase braking force, even if the driver is already applying the brakes. AEBS may also be called a Predictive Emergency Braking System (PEBS).
Pedestrian Detection Systems: a sub-system of AEBS or PEBS. These systems warn the driver when pedestrians are detected in front of the vehicle. They also when a pedestrian appears to be moving in front of the vehicle. A car equipped with both AEB and PDS will automatically brake if the driver does not react quickly enough.
Lateral (Side) Safety Systems
Lane Assist Systems are designed to mitigate potential collisions from the side of a vehicle. These systems include the following technology: Lane Departure Warning (LDW); Lane Keeping Assist (LKA); and Lane Centering Assist (LCA).
Lane Departure Warning is a camera-based system that can detect lane markings. If a vehicle is drifting out of its lane and crosses a road marking, the driver is alerted by a visual, audio, or tactile alert. For example, a vibrating steering wheel or seat.
Lane Keep Assist uses either a camera-based system or infrared sensor to detect road markings. When a car drifts out of the white lines, an electronically powered counter-steering torque is applied to assist the driver to move back into the lane.
Lane Centering Assist is very similar to lane keep assist, with the exception that it helps the driver to keep the vehicle in the center of its lane.
Side View Assist (SVA) Systems or Blind Spot Detection Systems: use radars or cameras to continually monitor alongside and diagonally to the rear of the vehicle. When another vehicle moves into the blind spot or alongside the car, a light is shown in the side view mirrors (or nearby) to alert the driver. Some systems may also make an audible warning if the driver uses a turn signal. Stationary objects such as guardrails or telephone poles do not activate side view assist systems.
Parking Assist Systems
Parking Assist Systems are all designed to help drivers park more safely and with greater precision. A rear-view camera is complimented with an ultrasonic sensor. This means that the driver can see what is behind the vehicle as well as their distance. Park assist alerts the driver to engage the brakes and gas and guides the vehicle along the best line into a parking space. Steering is hands-free.
Rear Cross Traffic Alert systems issue an audible or visual warning when the vehicle is is in reverse and other vehicles are crossing behind.
Online auto-safety resources
There are a number of online resources that help identify new (and old) car safety features. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent non-profit organization which aims to reduce injuries and deaths from vehicle crashes. Anyone can search their website for vehicles safety ratings. The IIHS offers a crashworthiness report and rates a vehicle as good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.
In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides information on recalls for vehicles which dealerships may not disclose. This website also contains helpful information about road safety.
If you are looking for the value of a vehicle in addition to new car safety features, Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds are useful resources. Further, Carfax provides vehicle history reports as well as car safety and reliability ratings. These include access to other sources such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, J.D. Power and Associates, and others.
Jaime Jackson Law is dedicated to helping keep people safe on the roads. We have decades of experience in evaluating the crashworthiness of the vehicles involved. We are experienced at identifying “failure to equip cases”. In other words, vehicles that do not have safety technology as standard, as well as cases where the technology did not perform as intended or expected. The legal profession plays a critical role in protecting the American public and holding the automotive industry accountable when their vehicles fail and harm and the public.