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Available Vehicle Technology Geared Towards Road Safety

Published:Friday | July 28, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Rear-view cameras
Abs light volkswagen passat
Electronic stability control
Lane departure

School is out, but Malta and the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Mining are keeping road users in the know with tips and advice on how to stay safe this summer. Look out for the Malta ROAD SCHOLARS road-safety series for more information.

Whether you're a parent with school-age children or free, single, and disengaged, you might have plans to go on vacation before the end of August. These hazy, lazy days of summer lend themselves to all kinds of adventures, which, very often, include long drives out of town. So, while you get ready to 'touch the road', consider the vehicle you're depending on to take you there and the technology it may have that can keep you safe.

"Automakers are coming up with new safety devices every day, and these features can make a big difference," said Kenute Hare, director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Mining. "While human behaviour remains the primary cause of road crashes, technology can help to mitigate against the human element."

Indeed, technology has played a major role in the automotive industry. Most cars these days come with some standard safety features, with multiple airbags among the more popular ones. However, if your vehicle didn't come with the latest gadgets, you could consider retrofitting it.


Rear-view Camera


Also called the backup camera, this tiny camera is installed at the rear of a vehicle and is connected to a display, which interfaces with the existing screen that comes with newer vehicles or on the rear-view mirrors. Many countries have already implemented laws that make this device mandatory in all cars and have seen a significant decrease in road crashes as a direct result. This gadget is the perfect upgrade for young motorists heading out to events with jam-packed parking lots.


Anti-lock Breaking System (ABS)


Most cars these days have this feature built in. The ABS allows you to steer the vehicle while braking heavily. ABS gives drivers increased control over the vehicle by preventing wheel-locking while a driver is pressing the brakes. This system decreases the stopping distance on dry and slippery roads, minimising the risk of skids and collisions, which is perfect during the hurricane season. ABS is activated and applied as necessary to help the vehicle maintain a steady path, keeping the driver in full control of the vehicle.


Warning and Emergency Braking System


Still a relatively new technological advancement, the warning and emergency braking system is just recently becoming a built-in feature in vehicles. Sensors on the car detect at an early stage the danger of a road crash with a vehicle, or large object. The technology activates the brakes and seatbelt tension in an attempt to avoid a road crash. Recent advancements of the Warning and Emergency Braking System work with the ABS to alert the driver when the vehicle is getting too close to another vehicle or object. The alert is usually a beeping sound, which gets louder and more frequent as the danger of impact increases.


Lane-Departure Warning System


This system is probably most useful for long trips and parish hopping. Also referred to as the Lane-Keep Assist, this system works along with the indicators to detect when the indicator is not on and the vehicle is beginning to move out of a lane and steers the vehicle back into the correct lane. It also alerts the driver by causing the steering wheel to vibrate or with a beeping sound. Recent upgrades to this system also monitor the driving pattern to detect when a driver is falling asleep and uses a louder and longer alert.


Electronic Stability Control


This feature allows for a vehicle to continue on its intended path while negotiating a turn or corner instead of veering to the left or right. This is done by accelerometers, which calculate the vehicle's speed and the angle at which it is turning. This helps to keep the vehicle grounded and minimises the likelihood of the vehicle flipping or rotating if there is a sudden brake or impact. The stability system activates when there is a sudden swerve or when the vehicle whips around a corner. It will apply the brakes and modulate the throttle to help the driver maintain control of the vehicle. Stability control is an upgrade that is useful when driving in unfamiliar areas where motorists often have to make quick adjustments based on changes in the road.

Now, although the technology can help, there's no substitute for responsible car care, which starts with ensuring your vehicle is properly maintained and ready for the road. We'll share more on the importance of maintenance later in this Road Scholars series.

Drive happy and stay safe!