Imagine a car that provides a second set of eyes on the road, watching out for possible collisions and pushing on the brakes if a driver fails to react in time. While most drivers don’t have this feature available in their cars, this soon may change.
Active Braking Systems, or Autonomous Emergency Braking Systems, are becoming integral safety features in the cars of numerous automakers. On the new 2013 XTS and SRX, Cadillac is offering advanced front and automatic rear brakes, which use radar and ultrasonic sensors to detect imminent collisions, applying the brakes automatically when needed. Mercedes-Benz offers a Pre-Safe Brake feature, also using radar sensors to scan traffic ahead. When it detects a possible collision, it sends audible alerts to the driver and initiates 40 percent brake force. Once the driver realizes the problem and pushes on the brakes, 100 percent brake force is automatically applied.
Volvo’s City Safety is now standard on the S60 sedan and XC60 crossover. Designed to prevent low-speed collisions through automatic braking, the system has been shown to reduce accidents. According to a study by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), insurance claim frequencies were lower on the City Safety-equipped XC60 crossover than on all other SUVs.
Mainstream auto brands such as Ford, Honda, and Mazda are also offering active braking systems on their high-volume cars. Some forms of these systems can be seen on the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, and Mazda CX-5.
According to car safety organization Euro NCAP, real world data suggests that active braking systems can reduce accidents by up to 27 percent. This new technology has the potential to save thousands of lives around the globe. Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General of Euro NCAP said, “A faster penetration of these technologies into new cars will make it more realistic for the European Union to reach its target to cut road deaths by 50 percent by 2020.” He also said that Euro NCAP hopes European authorities will make the Active Braking Systems mandatory on all new vehicles in the near future.
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