New tech may prevent car accidents caused by fatigue

New tech may prevent car accidents caused by fatigue

Plenty of car accidents around Baltimore, Maryland, are caused by drowsy and inattentive drivers. A new commercially available technology may help prevent those car accidents by guiding drivers back to the center of their lane. Even though the technology may reduce car accidents caused by fatigue and inattentiveness, the technology may pose other risks.

Lane-keeping systems help drivers stay on the road when drivers drift outside of the lane. While the technology is one step closer to automated driving, the technology needs to improve further before it can be relied upon. Some car manufacturers offer lane-keeping systems, and Ford is one such car company. Ford offers its “lane-keeping technology” on two of its 2013 models.

Ford’s system uses a camera mounted on the rear-view mirror to analyze whether the driver stays within the lane markings on the road. If the driver travels at more than 40 miles per hour and does not use a turn signal when moving outside the markings of the lane, the system will warn the driver by vibrating the steering wheel. If the driver does not respond to the warning, the system engages the power steering and directs the car back to the center of the lane.

Even though the driving assistance technology represents a chance to lower some types of car accidents, the technology itself is not 100 percent reliable and has not been recommended for use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The technology cannot assist drivers if it cannot identify lane markings. Commercially available lane-keeping systems currently have issues recognizing lane markings through curves and in inclement weather.

Even if the technology was more reliable, it may create new problems. According to a professor of mechanical engineering who is also the director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford, lane-keeping systems may create risk-accommodation problems. As vehicles are made safer, drivers may tend to behave more dangerously behind the wheel.

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