April 28th, 2015
Blind spots, vision obstruction and lack of illumination at night are just a few of the factors that may obscure a driver's vision. When operating a vehicle, a person needs to be on the alert for obstacles or conditions limiting response time. A driver's visibility is one of the most crucial factors auto manufacturers take into account when designing new vehicles. Here are some of the new technologies being incorporated into modern cars to improve driver's vision:
Eliminating the blind spot
As of 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation found 11 percent of accidents are related to a driver's vision being obstructed. Obstructions can be caused by outside environmental factors or other vehicles and objects being in the driver's blind spot. Blind spots are areas the vehicle operator cannot see when looking through his or her windows or mirrors.
One proposed solution to the blind spot dilemma has been to improve the side view mirrors. This is a low-tech option that provides greater visibility by simply changing the angle at which the mirror reflects images. Business Insider featured a story about such a mirror last year. The story focused on Honda's new Expanded-View Driver's Mirror. The new mirror uses a convex angle on its outer edge to provide a wider area of visibility with fewer blind spots. Honda isn't the first car maker to use this mirror but it is one of the few companies that is making the mirror standard on its new models.
Extreme Tech reported on a new tool that uses radar or sonar to detect surrounding objects called blind spot detection. A car with blind spot detection will give the driver a warning if he or she has activated the turn signal while another car is in a blind spot. The signal can be visual, auditory or a vibration in the steering wheel. The warning can display on the dashboard or on the side mirrors. This technology is not only handy for changing lanes but for parallel parking or driving in reverse. Blind spot detection is able to sense objects behind or to the sides of the vehicle, giving the driver complete 360 degree awareness.
Rear camera display
For larger vehicles, objects or people inside the car might be blocking the view out the back window. A driver looking over his or her shoulder or the using the rear view might be hindered by children bouncing around, large items being transported or any other interior distraction.
Rear camera display is able to see what the rear view mirror cannot. The camera is installed in the very back of the car looking out through the back window. Touch a button on the rear view mirror and the technology displays the unobstructed view from the back camera's angle. The driver can switch back and forth between the camera's visibility and the mirror's. Extreme Tech indicated consumers are very excited to see the rear camera display become standard in large vehicles. Currently. rear camera display screens that attach to the dashboard are available for purchase.
Driving at night
Unsurprisingly, the majority of accidents happen at night. In the dark, it can be hard to see pedestrians or animals to the side of the road waiting to cross. The inability to see beyond headlights and the glare from other driver's light beams also contribute to evening accidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation found 17 percent of road incidents were caused by glare.
Night vision options have been around for a while. Night vision can come standard with certain vehicles or a car owner can purchase night vision equipment separately. Last year, Consumer Reports tried out the night vision technology available for a BMW and was pleased with the results. Night vision solutions in vehicles use thermal imaging to spot living creatures that might enter a vehicles path. New advances in motion technology can give driver's warning both audibly and in a heads up display.
Future Technology explained what might be next for night driving solutions. The most recent development from Vauxhall Motors and Opel, European companies of General Motors, are head beams that adjust to where the driver is looking. An interior camera tracks the driver's face and eye movements and moves the head lights accordingly. The technology has been consistently improving and now the light beams are adjusted instantly and smoothly. Vauxhall is also working on a light detection system that will adjust the car's headlights so as to not blind other drivers with glare. This technology is experimental but researchers suggest it might be available to the public within the next couple years.
Any technology that improves the ease of driving and cuts down on accidents will not only make drivers safer but can save them money. The longer a car owner goes without an accident the cheaper his or her car insurance will be, provided they find the right agency.
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