All cracked up: New technologies could prevent traffic crashes

Oops!: New technologies being developed for vehicles may help prevent situations like this from happening to us on the road in the future.
Oops!: New technologies being developed for vehicles may help prevent situations like this from happening to us on the road in the future.
If you’re like me, you’ve had your fair share of car crashes. They’re never fun, no matter how minor the outcome.

However, science is coming to the rescue to help us be better drivers. I ran into some interesting stuff in Consumer Reports about new technologies that are being developed to reduce traffic collisions. In quick snapshots, they include:

• ESC (Electronic Stability Control) braking – which will selectively apply brakes on strategic wheels of a vehicle when sensors determine a car is going out of control. The government has required all new vehicles to have this system by 2012.

• Blind-spot detection – Right now Audi and Volvo are experimenting with ways use cameras or radar on the outside mirrors of cars that would connect to a warning light on the dashboard to tell you there’s a vehicle in your blind spot.

• Night vision – Infrared technology would give drivers the ability to see things at night that are outside the range of their headlights, particularly things like people and animals. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus are working with this technology.

• Lane-departure warning – Small cameras watching the stripes on highways will alert drivers if they start to veer out of their lane. So far, experiments show this technology works on major highways, but not so well on minor roads that don’t have as much highway paint. Infiniti has been developing this technology.

• Adaptive cruise control – This new style of cruise control would keep not just a standard speed for a car but a minimum distance it follows behind another vehicle. It will use radar to sense vehicles ahead and then speed up or slow down as traffic conditions allow.

• Pre-collision systems – Taking the adaptive cruise control one step further, collision sensing equipment will sound alarms and display warnings lights when it senses a vehicle is too close. It will also respond by fully charging brakes for a sudden stop, close windows, ready air bag and adjust seat positions in anticipation of a possible crash.

Of course, these features are still in the works and will probably not be available in any vehicles soon. What other traffic crash things would you like to see on your car of the future? Share them here with other Science Buzz readers.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

James Alexander's picture

In the world of airplane pilots there is a saying which goes like this:

"There is no such thing as good or bad pilots (read drivers) only old pilots (drivers)" so whatever the technology drive more carefully, drive more slowly.

Over and above it saves gas, saves money and lowers greenhouse gas and other poisonous emissions.

My first remarks on road safey may be found on the above personal pages and current sources of inspitation may be found at:


posted on Sat, 04/14/2007 - 3:28pm
mentor's picture
mentor says:

Is it possible to create a car that runs on wind power? I know it gets pretty tricky when the car is not in motion, but what if we use a battery to power up the car and get it in motion, then as it is in motion there can be a couple of turbines in the car, and as the car is in motion the turbine will spin creating energy for the car. I think of it as a second alternator. Another idea is try to connect some energy creating devices on the wheels of the car and as it spins get some energy off of that.
Very curious.

posted on Thu, 11/15/2007 - 4:27pm

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