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Volvo's Collision Warning with Brake Support system (Vo... Volvo's Collision Warning with Brake Support system (Volvo).
In 1989, AOL Editor-in-Chief David Kiley was in a collision that could have taken his life. He was driving a Buick Roadmaster, a heavy aircraft-carrier of a sedan. As he was stopped in a left-turn lane, he looked up at the light to see if it was time to turn into the intersection. The light he looked at was green, but it was the wrong light; it was for the through traffic. His light was still red. As he turned, admittedly distracted by some personal family events that were occupying his mind, the oncoming Volvo 240 stationwagon barreled into Kiley's Roadmaster, T-boning the car.

The Volvo occupants were fine, though quite dazed. Kiley's Roadmaster was a total, but he was spared, in part, by the airbags that deployed.

If one or both of those cars had been equipped with collision-avoidance systems offered on many cars today, the accident may have been avoided all together. It's important to realize, says Kiley, "that I had been driving a Mazda Miata in the same spot a few days earlier, and I daresay I would not have been as fortunate."

Collision avoidance systems are appearing on more and more cars, big and small, as options, or as part of safety packages car companies are offering. Do they work? How do they work? Read our Techsplanations on today's collision-avoidance system:

What is it?

Collision avoidance is the next frontier in safety. Ever since seat-belts became mandatory equipment in the 1960s, most safety improvements have been focused on surviving an accident. From impact-absorbing bumpers to multiple airbags, the idea has long been to make a car more able to take a hit and still protect its passengers. Automakers have been very successful in their efforts, so now they're turning towards using technology to help cars avoid accidents altogether. The cars are literally becoming smarter than we are as drivers.

How does it work?

Collision avoidance generally starts with a system called adaptive cruise control. This is like regular cruise control, but with the addition of radar sensors that can "see" the traffic ahead of you and slow your car to maintain a safe following distance. If you are a notorious tailgater, this system over-rides your own bad driving habits.

Collision avoidance systems can also sound alarms or flash warnings on the windshield if the sensors determine that your car is getting to close to another car too fast. The system will then apply brake pressure perhaps sooner than you yourself would. If the computers and sensors determine that a crash is unavoidable, they also work to tighten up seat-belts, adjust headrests, or close the power windows and sunroof to make the car safer in the collision. Pretty nifty.

Collision avoidance also includes other related technology, like lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring systems. This technology works by using a camera to "see" the road and alert the driver if the car begins to drift out of a lane, or if another car approaches from the side. Lane departure warning systems will sound warning tones or vibrate the steering wheel, and some may even help steer the car to keep it headed straight. Blind spot monitoring systems often display warning lights in the driver's peripheral vision and may sound alarms as well. Some systems use radar rather than cameras, but the end result is the same.

Why would I want it?

Simple: It makes your car safer. Avoiding accidents isn't just good for your health, but it saves time and money that would be spent dealing with the aftermath of a collision, too. These systems react faster to dangerous situations than we, as people, ever can.

Is there any downside?

None really, save for the occasional annoying beep or steering wheel vibration when the system over performs and reacts when there isn't what you might call "real danger."

What vehicles offer it?

This is the sort of technology that's become prevalent on luxury cars, like Audis, BMWs, and Cadillacs, but it has begun to trickle down to more mainstream vehicles like the Ford Taurus, which offers the system standard, and Dodge Charger, as well. Within a year or two, even cars priced below $20,000 should be offering these systems for as little as a $500 option as there is mounting pressure on car companies to make it standard equipment, or a modestly priced add-on.

Bottom line

No matter how good a driver you might be, there are times when it can't hurt to have a little technology on your side.


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  • 198 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      My best friend ,she just has announced her wedding with a millionaire young man Ronald who is the CEO of a MNC ! They met via MillionaireLoveLinks.CoM....it's where for men and women looking for comp'anionship for a fabu'lous lifestyle, maybe you want to try it out :) . …you don’t have to be rich there ,but you can meet one. It's worth a try. ..or maybe he should have been an educated and responsible adult. MAYBE he should have been CONCENTRATING ON DRIVING instead of "distracted by some personal family events". Maybe people need to pull their heads out of their dark holes and stop with the cell phones, GPS maps, lipsstick, eyeliner, newspapers, date books, etc. MAYBE, if you don't have the ability to just drive the car, YOU SHOULDN'T BE DRIVING!!!!
      dkp50
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yeah Right- Just another Big Brother item to jack up the cost of these Already over priced Plastic Cars.. They've added so many items as Standard, that used to be Options.. it;s about $5k higher than it has to be. -WE drover Big Cars with 15" Wheels and Tires for Decades, now our Compact cars need 17"? that cost 2x as much? -We need Outside power Mirrors? Auto Inside Dimming Mirror? too lazy to Flip it the old fashion way? -And the List goes on.. I bet this system cost about and extra $1,000 or more..? But, it will save Lives.. about 100 more per yr and thus it's justifiable to make it standard by the Dems.. Big Brother again.. We'd save 1,000x more lives by just using Traffic Cams and hand out tickets to Tailgators and Speeders doing 10+mph over the limit..
      emmyjwalker
      • 3 Years Ago
      this, to me, is like the new cars that drive themselves and you dont have to do anything. I think people will become too dependant on it and then what happens if it stops working? I know this is different than the car that drives itself and this is safer if it quits working but still. I wouldnt trust it. and I dont think they should be making the cars that drive themselves either. that can cause horrible accidents for the other drivers that dont have it that are paying attention even. if the car flips out itll crash regardless of what you try to do. anyways...I wouldnt get anything like this but thats just me :) I like my regular cars
      deserthome17
      • 3 Years Ago
      Some warning sounds and preparations sound OK, but have you ever driven a car with a governor on it that won't let you go over, say, 50 mph? It stops you at about 47, slows you down, then lets you start up again after several seconds. Very trying, very dangerous since it takes away your control in a potentially fatal situation that it can't possibly really see or understand, and it slows and congests traffic to create traffic jams. Better to allow humans to learn to handle situations themselves.
        retaxis
        • 3 Years Ago
        @deserthome17
        The engine governor in your example a mechanical device which limits the RPM the engine can achieve through some artificial means (usually fuel restriction). If you'd even glanced at the image directly under the title, and right above where the Article body begins, you may have gotten the feeling that this is not a blind system at all. As found under the section "How it works": [quote]Collision avoidance generally starts with a system called adaptive cruise control. This is like regular cruise control, but with the addition of radar sensors that can "see" the traffic ahead of you and slow your car to maintain a safe following distance.[/quote] I hope you feel sufficiently ashamed of the fool I've made of you to at least READ THE #&@*!@ ARTICLE YOU ARE COMMENTING ON.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Seems to me the beeps and lights might be distracting and cause problems, although every car would have to keep a safe distance away, which would be a good thing. Tom, really love the "nerf" idea, rotfl. To solve the rain, snow and weather problem, I suggest, just taking regular cars and apply a 10-inch thick coating of "nerf" all around the car.
      • 3 Years Ago
      eatring ment eating typo
      Art
      • 3 Years Ago
      are you kidding.. put an impatient human behind the wheel and they will crash this system in minutes.. nothing can stop human impatience and stupidity.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I heard about the unbelievable deals that people claimed they got from penny auctions. I was curious about how these auctions worked, so I signed up for a BBB Accredited Penny Auction site with a good reputation called BidCactus ( http://tinyurl.com/BestBargainAuctions ). Apparently, Penny auctions work by having people purchase a bid package. Usually you get anywhere from 100-500 bids in a bid package, and you use up these bids by bidding on an item you want. Everytime someone places a bid on an item, the price of the item goes up by one penny. Taking a look through the items on BidCactus, I was surprised by how many of them were really expensive products (Sony TV's, New iPhone's, etc.) that were going for really cheap. What you do is place a Bid on the item you want and this increases the bid timer by 10 seconds. To win an item you have to be the last bidder when the timer hits 0. So my strategy to win a penny auction for a new Apple Ipad 2 was to wait until the timer hit 20 seconds left, and then start placing my bids on it. I waited patiently while the timer counted down, and once it hit that 20 second mark, I started placing my bids. I placed about 15 bids before the timer finally hit zero and I won! I was beyond excited, because the price of the item was only $11. That means, after spending 15 bids and having to purchase the new iPhone 4S, I only had to spend a total of Under $25!
      cnakao534
      • 3 Years Ago
      KNOW WONDER WE NEED MORE COPS , JUST TO MAKE MORE MONEY TO KEEP THEM ON PAY ROLL. IF THEY DID CRIME THEY DON'T HAVE FINES AND THEY BE OUT OF JOBS. CLINTON SEAT BELT LAWS , JUST MAKES MORE MONEY . IT IS NOT A CRIME ,
      Jack Leeming
      • 3 Years Ago
      Where's the list of towns referred to in your headline?
      Chris Young
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great now car companies are making cars for people that bury their noses in smartphones. People that just love to text and drive cant be bothered with actually driving their cars. I see it every day some jackass swerving or not pulling away from a light just your average dangerous driver. I cant wait till there is an all out ban on cellphones in the car. I dont even think people talking on hands free units should be allowed. I have seen my own mother on a cell while driving and she is way more engrossed in her conversation than she is her driving. Cells are a massive distraction add to that the people that dont know how to drive to begin with it only causes accidents.
      alyeska2
      • 3 Years Ago
      One of the dangers facing us in the next few years is unfortunately related to the economic downturn: many people are currently operating a vehicle they cannot afford to maintain and service properly. While these vehicles might break down on the side of the road, they might also cause more accidents due to faulty brakes, bad tires, etc... France and Germany have reduced their accident rates by 50% (Yes, 50%!) in the past 10 years by mandating a "technical inspection" of all vehicles before renewing registrations. These inspections are paid for by registration fees. Personally, I would feel better knowing the person driving toward me in the opposite lane is operating a safe vehicle.
        lenidgman
        • 3 Years Ago
        @alyeska2
        Where I live, instead of the old inspection once a year, they keep extending the time. New cars get 4 years from start and that was just extended to six. Be nice if the reg fee was divided by 6 for doing nothing.
        rjackson2a
        • 3 Years Ago
        @alyeska2
        Many states have such mandatory inspections. Basically, it means people have a car that is safe to operate one time per year and never do anything to it the rest of the time. Accident rates in the states that require such inspections are no lower than in states that do not have them. In fact, Florida is a state that use to have them, but phased them out several years ago so the same money that was used to administer the program could be used to put more state police on the roads.
          lenidgman
          • 3 Years Ago
          @rjackson2a
          Obviously if a state charges every year and inspects after six there is only one reason. Now that I think about it--six years costs about 800$. So the money is getting used already. Where? is the question
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