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Looking into the near future of vehicle safety tech

Car safety features of the past focused on protecting the occupants inside the vehicle. When you walk into a Los Angeles new car dealership today, salespeople will happily tell you about modern safety technologies designed to take the next step by preventing motor vehicle crashes from happening in the first place.

In 2021, safety tech protects not only the occupants of the vehicle, but occupants of other vehicles, too – and pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists as well.

Some of the safety available on new vehicles includes automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, blind-spot alerts, lane maintenance assistance and adaptive cruise control.

Consumer Reports says there’s even more safety tech on the way. Let’s take a look.

Enhancing reality

Augmented reality systems will project 3D animations in a head-up display to show drivers where to turn or stop. The systems will also highlight pedestrians and stopped vehicles ahead.

Augmented reality displays are already available on some vehicles. Consumer Reports expects them here soon.

End of ‘Dooring’

As many in Los Angeles know, ‘dooring’ occurs when a driver or passenger opens the door of a stopped vehicle directly in the path of an oncoming bicyclist or motorcyclist. Injuries happen not only when the cyclist hits the door, but also when cyclists veer into traffic to avoid the opening door.

Some Hyundai, Kia and Genesis models offer Safe Exit Assist that uses radar to detect traffic from the rear. It briefly locks doors to prevent dooring.

Heat-seeking protection

Carmakers are at work on thermal camera systems that will detect the body heat of pedestrians and bicyclists to alert drivers. The big advantage here is that the systems will work even in the dark and in adverse weather conditions such as snow and rain.

The technology is expected to be incorporated in vehicles by 2025.

  • Additional emerging safety tech includes systems that will help eliminate hot car tragedies in which parents leave a small child alone in a parked car on a hot day.
  • Adaptive driving beam: these smart headlights will adapt to cut down glare in drivers’ eyes, while also highlighting pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Advanced driver monitoring: these systems watch drivers’ eyes to detect when a driver isn’t paying attention to the road. They can also slow and then stop a vehicle if a driver has become unresponsive due to a medical emergency or some other problem.

Current safety tech systems are helping to make crashes more infrequent and injuries less likely to be severe. We look forward to similar gains as the systems improve.