US roads are more crowded than ever. The Urban Mobility Scorecard published by the Texas A&M and INRIX finds drivers lose an average of 42 hours per year sitting in traffic.
In addition, road fatalities for 2015 will probably exceed the 2014 number by more than eight percent, according to a November 2015 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Boost your chances to avoid a road accident with proven technologies that warn you about unsafe driving around you and help you drive more defensively.
Technology That Boosts Defensive Driving
You can’t control the behavior of other drivers, but you can control your own with technology that helps you drive more defensively.
- Blind spot monitors alert drivers when another vehicle enters the blind spot. Blind spot mirrors will activate a light on the affected side. Using the turn signal when there’s someone in the blind spot will activate a flashing red light. Newer vehicles have cameras that monitor the blind spots and show them on the dashboard screen. AutoTrader recommends them for larger vehicles, drivers who spend a lot of time on highways, and those who are “easily distracted.”
- Adaptive cruise control takes cruise control a step further by adjusting speed to maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you. TireBuyer says it’s now available in many “mainstream” cars, and it can be added to standard cruise control.
- Tire pressure monitoring systems monitor tire air pressure and alert drivers when they are over- or under-inflated. Some also record tire temperature. It’s included in all cars manufactured in 2008 on. Proper tire pressure can help you get better gas mileage and reduce noise. Keep in mind that a TPMS won’t be able to monitor worn-out tires.
These technologies are also available on motorcycles and can be added to bikes without them.
HUD Technology Keeps Drivers’ Eyes on the Road
“Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel,” Jim Morrison belted out so many years ago. With Head-Up Display (HUD) technology, this is now a reality.
HUD is turning car windshields into readout monitors, Bloomberg News observes. Instead of glancing away from the road to read an in-dashboard GPS, or down to the dash to check speed or monitor their mileage, drivers can now simply refocus their attention to windshield displays for this information.
HUD tech has been in very high-end cars for decades, but recently has appeared in Mazdas, Priuses, and BMW’s Mini. And like many of the newer built-in safety features, there are kits available to make older cars feel more like, well, one of Barry Goldberg’s “Top Gun” fantasies.
SmartHelmets for Bikers
HUD is now showing up in motorcycle helmets. A handful of smart helmets are pre-selling or preparing for a U.S. launch. They project road information to helmet visors, similar to the design in helmets for fighter pilots, and incorporate Bluetooth technology for smartphone hookup—key for emergency communication.
- The Intelligent Cranium iC-R projects with LED technology. It includes two rear-facing cameras that provide 210-degree views to eliminate blind spots and rear-end collision warning. Mobile phone connectivity delivers GPS navigation and communication. Tools charge via a solar panel on top of the helmet.
- The Skully AR-1 uses transparent display to boost its “situational awareness” features that include audio-visual GPS navigation and a live blind spot camera view.