Technology Of The Year - Active Safety: Honda LaneWatch™

An upgrade on an existing idea turned Honda's system from commodity to unique

Lane-departure warning systems have appeared on the offerings of almost every carmaker over the past few years. But Honda, with its new LaneWatch™ system, has added a new technology that's different than most of those systems, and perhaps ahead of the pack.

Making its debut on the 2013 Honda Accord, LaneWatch™ doesn't actually let drivers know whether they're accidentally drifting out of a lane--another system takes care of that. LaneWatch™ lets drivers get an up-close view of any right-lane traffic on the car's blind-spot via a camera and display on the navigation screen as he or she prepares to switch lanes.

It works like this: When activated, a small camera mounted beneath the passenger-side rear-view mirror transmits a real-time video picture of the lane to the Accord's dash-mounted display screen.

Yellow and red lines denote distance on the screen, helping drivers gauge distance of other traffic, with markings at 10 feet away, 32 feet away and 70 feet away. Honda says the system gives drivers four times as much sight than the passenger-side mirror alone. The system can be manually activated or automatically turned on when the right blinker is used.

The one quirk of the system is that it only works on the right side of the car, and doesn't give drivers any information about traffic in the blind spot over their left shoulder. But it's the passenger side that is more prone to dangerous blindspots.

It still presents a big leap forward for safety. Drivers get an expanded view of the right-side blind spot without having to crane their necks away from the road. It protects other traffic from accidents as well, primarily cyclists who can be difficult to spot in the rear-right blind spot who can get hit should the car make a right turn.

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