Friday, Ford Motors announced two new lighting technologies that they hope will significantly reduce front-end collisions and help ease the stress of driving on unlit roads.
Driving accidents are still the leading cause of death in the US, however that number has dropped a great deal over the last decade. The amount of traffic deaths fell almost a quarter between 2004 and 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), thanks to countless innovations in safety features being installed directly into your vehicle. These modifications include adaptive cruise control, a system which adjusts the driver’s speed according to how close you are to another vehicle, forward collision warning systems that utilize radar, laser, or camera sensors to detect a potential oncoming crash, and lane departure warning systems which let a driver know when they are straying out of a lane, among many others. Many of these features have become a standard in the late 2000’s, with the biggest one being electronic stability control – a system which helps drivers keep better control of the steering wheel, resulting in fewer roll-overs – says The Wall Street Journal.
“Auto safety has evolved from basic seatbelts and lighting to high-tech safety features that can help drivers avoid accidents altogether,” stated the NHTSA. “Thanks to continuing innovation, today’s vehicles are the safest in history and have contributed to year-over-year decreases in crash-related fatalities and injuries nationwide.”
“These technologies, and others yet to be developed, are changing how we drive and helping to make driving safer,” says safety specialist Scott Humphrey in a blog post. Of course there is still just as much importance on the actual driver and his or her compliance with road laws and restrictions, however these new tools certainly aid the person at the wheel in following these rules and providing more safety. Now, Ford is tossing a few new ideas into the mix, with two camera-based headlight systems set to become available soon.
The first is a mechanic which uses front-end cameras in the rear-view mirror to detect when to widen headlight beams, like when the vehicle is approaching intersections and roundabouts. The technology also works alongside your GPS (when available) to predict when to begin working and to provide better illumination for obstacles that may be around a corner. The second, referred to as ‘spot-lighting’, is a highly advanced infra-red camera that controls two independent lights and highlights upcoming people or animals based on body heat. The system can detect bodies up to 400 feet away, and also gives a warning on a screen inside the vehicle as you approach, highlighting them in yellow or red according to the ‘risk level’.
“Many people who drive at night have had to quickly react to someone or something suddenly appearing in the road – as if from nowhere,” said Ken Washington, Ford’s vice president of research and advanced engineering, in the company’s blog, adding that these new advancement could “help ensure the driver is quickly alerted to people or animals that could present a danger.”
Safety experts hope these developments become as standard as the other useful driving applications we’ve seen emerge recently, with Sue Cischke, a retired safety engineer from Ford saying “It’s really a symptom of what the industry has been doing in the last 20 years. A lot of these technologies are [at] first options, and as they get more acceptance, they become standard.”