You’re driving along minding your own business when suddenly the driver in front of you slams on their brakes causing you to brake suddenly and unexpectedly – you barely miss hitting him. Good for you. You were paying attention.
Not good for you – the guy behind you was not. He was on his phone! One moment you realize he’s not going to be able to avoid crashing into your car, the next you find yourself face first in a deployed air bag.
Wouldn’t it be nice if cars could pay attention and act as a back-up for their drivers who are failing to meet their responsibility to pay attention?
Yes it would. And yes that technology is here.
(Good thing – especially for certain areas in North Carolina.)
Automatic Braking Technology Potentially May Help
The popularity of in-vehicle safety devices is nothing new. Seat belts, for example, were not even an option in many cars during much of the 1960s. But since then, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports that safety technologies have saved more than 600,000 lives.
Ever-advancing auto safety technology could potentially make a big impact on reducing the number of car accidents in North Carolina. This is particularly good news for rural areas in our state, where WCTI reported our state ranked third in the nation for the most non-interstate rural road traffic deaths! And according to a WRAL.com report, it’s also good news for divers in Pitt, New Hanover, Vance, Person, and Stanly counties, as AAA data shows that this is where drivers are most likely to be involved in a car crash in N.C.
Clearly some N.C. drivers could use a little help behind the wheel. Enter automatic emergency braking systems (AEBS). These advanced braking technologies are designed to help reduce the chances of rear-end accidents, which caused one-third of crashes in 2013, according to NHTSA data. Why so many? A large number of drivers involved either didn’t apply the brakes at all or didn’t fully apply the brakes prior to the crash.
The agency reasons that AEBS systems can potentially help intervene by automatically applying the brakes or supplementing the driver’s braking effort to either avoid the crash or at least mitigate it. Admittedly these systems are not perfected yet, and some car manufacturers have had to recall some models because of these braking systems. But the agency feels AEBS technology has the potential for such great promise that it wants to see manufacturers make collision avoidance systems standard equipment in newly manufactured vehicles. The rollouts would potentially begin with collision warning systems and then add autonomous emergency braking once the agency completes standards for them.
Two Types of Automatic Braking Technologies
When a car is directly in front of you and you are having difficulty stopping in time, even a few seconds can make a huge difference. AEBS may potentially help reduce the risk of human error when braking, by presumably adding those important seconds. Regulators claim that two new automatic braking technologies that show promise are the crash imminent braking (CIB) and the dynamic brake support (DBS).
Crash Imminent Braking (CIB)
CIB works by identifying when your vehicle is going to strike an object such as the car in front of you. This system kicks in regardless of what the driver is doing. If the system determines that a crash is about to occur, the braking system is designed to automatically apply your vehicle’s brakes.
Dynamic Brake Support (DBS)
The DBS system aims to enable your car to respond as quickly and effectively as possible when you brake suddenly. If the system determines that the driver’s braking is not adequate to avoid the accident, the system is designed to provide added braking assistance to supplement the driver’s braking efforts.
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Sadly, many drivers just don’t pay attention. They’re distracted by cell phones, flying sippy cups, cheese stuck on a burger wrapper – or all these things simultaneously.
With the proliferation of advanced safety devices like collision warning and AEBS systems, perhaps we, as lawyers, won’t have to deal with as many accidents caused by inattentive drivers.