We have reached a new phase in automotive safety. For several decades, safety features have centered on reducing the chance of serious injury or death in a crash. Things like airbags, anti-lock brakes, and crumple zones assume collisions are inevitable. Now we’re on the cusp of dramatically reducing that probability.
Subaru has added this amazing technology called EyeSight to its cars. Cameras mounted near the top of the car’s windshield watch for approaching obstacles and warn the driver. If the driver doesn’t respond, the car stops itself.
The Subaru Legacy and Outback equipped with EyeSight both earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s top crash-avoidance rating recently, but here’s the game-changing part: the IIHS—the same agency that helped make crash test dummies famous—is now testing crash avoidance.
That’s big, and here’s why: If enough automakers succeed at designing cars that can successfully, and autonomously, avoid a collision, accident rates will fall, and eventually so will insurance premiums.
But there’s another upside. Crash-avoidance technology is also helping steer the auto industry toward self-driving vehicles. These safety features use strategically mounted cameras and sensors to help the vehicle interact with its surroundings.
We now have cars that can tell you when you’re drifting into another lane, and they can tell you whether another car is in your blind spot. Many have active cruise control, which monitors the distance between you and the vehicle up ahead.
All of these are precursors to vehicles that will eventually drive themselves. Mercedes is nailing this with the new S-Class. And it’s not just passenger cars that are benefiting from this technology.
Now that the IIHS is ranking vehicles for how well they avoid crashes, we can expect more automakers to bring this technology to market and to eventually see our roads become a much safer place.