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Gadget-Driven: Vehicle Safety Meets Cool Technology

Heidi Wallis
Insurance Experts' Forum, April 7, 2011

As our worlds become more and more high-tech, so do our expectations for our vehicles. In fact, many of us now rank technology over safety when shopping for a new car. As an insurance company, the idea of so many nifty gadgets distracting drivers from the road makes us twitch a little. But as an online innovator with roots in the dot-com era, the opportunity for technology to advance vehicle safety makes our actuarial hearts go pitter-patter.

Here are a few of the safety technologies we’re most excited about:

Tailgate prevention

Ford is currently developing “intelligent vehicle” technology, part of which is designed to warn you if you’re traveling too close to the car in front of you. According to an NPR report, “The technology enables cars in close proximity to one another to share information wirelessly. The premise behind it is that most crashes are avoidable if drivers have enough time to react.”

Using GPS and Wi-Fi, intelligent vehicles will be able to talk to each other (within 1,500 feet), communicating things like latitude, longitude, and speed.

Blind Spot Detection

Like its name implies, Blind Spot Detection (BSD) technology uses sensors to detect if there’s a vehicle in your car’s blind spots. It then alerts you using lights in the mirrors or audible alarms.

Already available in certain Audi, Buick, Cadillac, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo models, Business Wire reports that BSD systems could be in 25% of new cars by 2016.

Collision Warning Systems

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Collision Warning Systems (CWS) “use algorithms to interpret transmitted and received radar signals to determine distance, azimuth, and relative speed between the host vehicle with the CWS and the vehicle or object ahead of it in the lane.”

Simply put (for those of us who don’t have advanced engineering degrees), CWS warns drivers if an object is approaching too quickly. Some systems will even apply the brakes if imminent threat of collision is detected.

Vehicle apps

In addition to built-in safety devices, many manufacturers are also developing vehicle-specific apps for smartphones. GM’s OnStar app enables you to control your vehicle remotely (can’t remember if you locked the car?), access info like fuel levels and tire pressure, and track average miles per gallon. It even recommends oil changes.

Similarly, the Nissan LEAF app lets you begin charging your battery, see when a charge is complete, check estimated driving range, and turn the climate control system on or off.

Good driving reigns

While all of this technology may one day deliver an accident-proof car, the best way to avoid collisions in the meantime is to stick with good old-fashioned safe driving. Check out these 7 Tips for Good Driving, and be your own safety device.

This blog was reprinted with permission from Esurance.

Heidi Wallis is a copywriter at Esurance.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Heidi using the “Add Your Comments” box below. 

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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