Collision Avoidance Technology
CAT systems have been available for years and have advanced a great deal over the past decade. Yet many cars and trucks still are not equipped with the lifesaving technology, and when equipped, the technology may not operate correctly. In either case, the vehicle may be considered defective. Lawyers presented with either scenario may have a CAT case on hand.
New technology is intended to avoid accidents, but when it is defective or not installed, lawsuits may be filed on behalf of injured plaintiffs.
Warning systems and systems to act autonomously to avoid a risk
Systems are only designed to recognize and react to certain risks. For example, less advanced systems may only be designed to detect vehicles, or vehicle sized objects, but not pedestrians. Vehicle speed plays a role as well, as CAT systems may not be designed to warn or act autonomously at very high speeds.
With more than 50% of vehicles manufactured in 2018 without some, or any available CAT features, the full benefits of these technologies are simply not being realized. At some point in the future, CAT systems already available on the market will be standard in new vehicles, and motorists will begin seeing the next evolution—fully autonomous vehicles capable of performing all driver functions under all conditions.
As of 2018, the availability of CAT has increased significantly: forward collision warning was available on 38.3% of vehicles, automatic emergency braking on 42.0%, brake assist on 35.0%, lane departure warning on 30.1%, lane keeping assist on 23.8%, blind spot monitoring on 30.7%, and pedestrian automatic breaking on 25.6%. The trend is obviously on the uptick, but with more than 50% of vehicles manufactured in 2018 without some, or any available CAT features, the full benefits of these technologies are simply not being realized.
At some point in the future, CAT systems already available on the market will be standard in new vehicles, and motorists will begin seeing the next evolution—fully autonomous vehicles capable of performing all driver functions under all conditions. In other words, vehicles capable of operating on autopilot on the highway without any monitoring or input from the driver, functions that are still required in existing versions of “autopilot” systems like Tesla Autopilot.
According to the National Safety Council, in 2019, more than 4.5 million people experienced medically consulted injuries in motor vehicle accidents, and more than 39,000 died. This marked a 10.6% increase in deaths since 2013. In 2020, a year when people drove much less frequently due to the pandemic, 4.8 million people experienced medically consulted injuries, and 42,000 people died, an 8% increase over 2019. Clearly, road safety continues to be of paramount importance, and CAT will be front and center.
CAT Warning Systems
Forward Collision Warning – A forward collision warning (FCW) system monitors the vehicle’s speed, and the distance between and speed of a vehicle ahead.
Lane Departure Systems – Where FCW systems provide warnings of risks to the front of the vehicle, lane departure systems provide warnings to drivers of risks to each side of the vehicle. Instead of monitoring vehicles, however, these systems utilize sensors or camaras to monitor lane markings and warn the driver when the system detects the vehicle is drifting out of its lane.
Rear Cross Traffic Warning – While a vehicle is in reverse, this warning system monitors the area to the rear of the vehicle for cross traffic, sounding a warning in the event of a potential collision.
Blind Spot Warning – These systems use cameras or proximity sensors to monitor a vehicle’s blind spot and can issue audible or visual warnings.
CAT Autonomous Systems
Automatic Emergency Braking – Automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems can apply a vehicle’s brakes automatically when the system determines a crash is imminent. Dynamic
brake support (DBS) systems supplement a driver’s braking if the system registers the driver is braking, but not hard enough to avoid a collision. If the driver is not braking at all, crash
imminent braking (CIB) systems will automatically apply the brakes to slow or stop the vehicle.
AEB systems are capable of mitigating or avoiding entirely an imminent forward collision with another vehicle. And this is not a future potential, it is a here and now reality. As reported
by NHTSA, “[e]xtensive research on this technology and on relevant performance measures showed that a number of AEB systems currently available in the marketplace are capable of
avoiding or reducing the severity of rear-end crashes in certain situations.”
Lane Keep Assist/Lane Centering Assist – Building off lane departure warning systems, lane keep assist systems monitor information from the lane departure sensors or cameras to determine whether the vehicle is about to unintentionally depart its lane of travel. If so, the system automatically activates to correct the steering, to accelerate one or more wheels, or some combination of both, to return the vehicle to the original lane.
Blind Spot Intervention – These systems operate by automatically applying light braking or steering to maintain the vehicle in its original lane.