Ask an Expert: Are modern cars with driver-assistance systems really safer?

by John and Theresa Kightlinger

Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) have taken the automotive industry by storm, promising to make driving safer and more comfortable. But are modern cars with ADAS really safer? Let’s dive in and find out.

What are ADAS? ADAS refer to a collection of technologies that aim to assist drivers in the driving process. These systems use sensors, cameras and other technologies to identify hazards and provide warnings or interventions to prevent or lessen accidents. ADAS are not new concepts, but the technology has evolved significantly in recent years, with manufacturers placing more advanced features into their vehicles.

Different types. There are several types of ADAS technologies available in modern cars. Some of the most common ones include: 1) Adaptive cruise control (ACC) automatically adjusts the car’s speed to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front. ACC uses radar and cameras to detect the distance between the two vehicles and adjust the speed accordingly. 2) Lane departure warning (LDW) alerts the driver when the car is drifting out of its lane without a turn signal. LDW uses cameras to detect lane markings and can provide audible or visual warnings to the driver. 3) Automatic emergency braking (AEB) detects potential collisions and applies the brakes to prevent or lessen the impact. AEB uses sensors and cameras to detect obstacles in the car’s path and can apply the brakes automatically if the driver fails to do so.

How do the systems work? ADAS technologies work by using a combination of sensors, cameras and software to identify potential hazards and provide warnings or interventions. These sensors and cameras are placed strategically around the car to provide a 360-degree view of the surroundings. When a potential hazard is detected, the system will provide a warning to the driver, such as an audible or visual alert. If the driver fails to respond, the system will intervene by applying the brakes or taking other actions to prevent or ease the impact.

Safety benefits. The primary benefit of ADAS is improved safety. By providing warnings and interventions, these systems can help prevent accidents and decrease the severity of collisions. Studies have shown that ADAS technologies can reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries, making driving safer for everyone on the road. Another benefit of ADAS is improved comfort and convenience. Features such as ACC and LDW can make driving more comfortable and less stressful, especially on long trips or in heavy traffic.

Limitations and risks. ADAS have many technologies to significantly improve safety on the road. However, it is important to remember that these systems are not foolproof and have limitations and potential risks that drivers should be aware of.

So, are modern cars with ADAS really safer? The answer is yes, but only if they’re used correctly and maintained correctly.

John and Theresa Kightlinger own My Body Shop at 401 N. Clinton St., Stockbridge. The couple have lived in the area and raised their children here over the past 20 years. John has been in the auto body business since 1985, and Theresa began work at General Motors after high school. Between the two, they have been working on cars for more than 75 years. 

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