The UK is now widely considered to be one of the safest places to drive, with a lower incidence of accidents and with generally safer roads than in most other countries of the world. In addition to our good accident statistics, all new cars are equipped with a dazzling array of safety features and undergo rigorous testing and rating to make sure that drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike are kept as safe as possible.
As safety technology in cars reaches new heights, we’ve decided to take a look at the newest trend in the motoring safety market – collision avoidance and mitigation.
Comprised of combinations of cameras, radar and laser devices, this technology is designed to detect objects and help the driver to stop the car, or in some cases to apply braking automatically, in the event of an incident. A massive range of car manufacturers now use this technology in their cars, and to give you a snapshot of some of the features and benefits, we are here to guide you through a look at some of the options:
Mitsubishi Forward Collision Mitigation
Mitsubishi Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM) is an automatic braking system, using a radar device that detects objects up to 200m ahead. Working up to a maximum speed of 180km/h, FCM detects anything that is a risk of collision and alerts the driver with audio and visual warnings. With the driver alerted, FCM also pre-fills the brakes and turns on brake assist, which boosts the braking pressure when the applied by the driver to avoid the object. If the driver does not respond, brakes are automatically applied, at varying levels depending on speed to avoid losing control, to help to stop the car.
Mercedes Pre-Safe System
Building on the progress and success of car proximity sensors, Mercedes’s Pre-Safe monitors nearby objects and cars whilst travelling, as well as recording the driver’s own actions, to determine whether safety measures need to be used.
In response to upcoming collisions or erratic driving, Pre-Safe activates safety precautions to protect the driver and passengers; including active head restraints and seat belt tensioners and also shuts the windows to prevent debris getting in. Some models of Mercedes also have multi-contour seats, and in these cases cushions and backrests are inflated to strengthen the seat and provide additional support, further helping to prevent injury.
Honda’s Collision Mitigation Brake System
The Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS) used by Honda utilises a small radar device to detect objects and imminent collisions and then apply the brakes automatically.
When the car is travelling faster than 15km/h the radar detects objects, including cars, up to 100m ahead, and then calculates whether it is likely that the car will collide with the object. If a collision is likely, the system starts a three stage process; first giving a visual and audio warning to the driver, then the seatbelts tighten sharply three times to alert the driver as well as a small amount of braking being applied. Finally, if the driver hasn’t reacted, front seatbelts are tightened fully for protection and a high level of braking is applied to slow the vehicle as much as possible.
VW Front Assist
Volkswagen’s Front assist uses a radar device to scan the road up to 80m ahead to detect obstacles, cars and people with which the car might collide. Positioned at the front of the car, the radar information is combined with footage from a windscreen-mounted camera to calculate the likelihood of an accident.
When an imminent collision is detected, Front Assist will give warnings to the driver, as well as pre-filling the braking system. If the driver does not respond, the car will use a small braking jolt to alert the driver and, at this point, if the driver does apply the brakes at all, the full braking force of the car will be used to mitigate as much damage as possible from the crash.
Audi Pre-sense Front Plus
Pre-sense Front Plus is a system designed to help avoid and mitigate rear-end collisions. Much like VW’s Front Assist, the Audi system uses radar combined with a windscreen-mounted camera to determine the likelihood of a crash, and then takes action to warn the driver and to prepare braking.
Initially, alerts are given to the driver and a small braking jolt is used as a haptic warning whilst the brake system is pre-filled. If the driver does not react, the car begins to brake to slow the car, and if no reaction at all is made the car will use full braking, as well as tightening seatbelts to reduce the chance of injury.
Volvo Collision Warning With Auto Brake
Using a combination of radar and windscreen cameras, like similar systems, the Volvo offering works to detect objects and cars and to decrease the likelihood of an accident. Unlike some alternatives, Volvo focuses on pedestrian safety, and its devices are designed with them in mind.
Like many, the system follows the route of audio and visual warnings, followed by brake charging and ultimately full automatic braking. Volvo say that their system is different from others in that, with a wider viewing angle for the devices, it is able to determine pedestrian walking patterns to reliably judge whether someone will step out in front of the car or not.
Ford Forward Alert
Forward Alert is Ford’s collision warning system, which uses radar and an automatic braking system. Ford estimates that slight and serious injuries could be reduced by 25% in cars equipped with Forward Alert, which is a substantial number when over 70,000 people are injured in accidents across Europe each year.
Two and a half seconds before an impact, the system alerts the driver, and a second later the system automatically applies moderate braking when the driver lifts the accelerator. As soon as the driver applies any amount of braking, the system uses the full braking force possible, regardless of pressure from the driver, to slow the car as much as possible before impact.
Unlike some available systems, Subaru’s Eyesight device uses no radar or laser technology, relying solely on two cameras placed at the top corners of the windscreen. Working in a similar way to the human eye, by getting two different viewing angles of an object allows the system to accurately work out the distance between the car and any object up to 80m away.
The system reacts to danger in a similar way to others, with varying levels of warning and automatic braking. The Subaru website explains however that their camera system has advantages by gaining a clearer view of the road situation ahead, and it is better able to determine exactly what an object is. The system is however reportedly slower to react to objects entering its field of vision suddenly, such as pedestrians or passing vehicles.
Toyota Pre-Collision System
Toyota’s system, although initially seeming to be a standard camera and radar option, combines several systems into one, designed to limit the likelihood of accidents and greatly mitigate the damage done by them. Like many devices, the Pre-Collision System detects objects and warns the driver, using automatic braking if the driver does not react.
In addition to automatic braking, Toyota use Driver Monitor, a system designed to watch the driver and alert him or her should they get distracted or fall asleep. Toyota also use Steering Bypass Assist, which, when an accident is likely, increases the steering ratio of the car as well as stabilising the shock absorbers, making it easier for the driver to avoid an obstacle whilst ensuring the safety of the car.
With so many varied products available, reliable statistics are hard to come by, but the manufacturers themselves claim that anything from 12% of motoring injuries could be prevented, 130 lives potentially saved in the UK each year and low-speed accidents could be prevented altogether. Even if these claims are only partially met, potentially thousands of people could benefit from these changes to motoring.
Adrian Flux now offers a specialist insurance policy to cover vehicles equipped with collision mitigation technologies and, with your car being safer on the roads, you can potentially save money on insurance compared to a standard car. For more information on this policy, visit the collision mitigation scheme page or call us today on 0800 369 8590.