In-Vehicle Technology Not All About Entertainment


When it comes to the new technology in vehicles, it’s easy to get caught up in the entertainment value. Will it include a DVD player for your children or the latest in GPS and audio displays for you? But entertainment on the road is far from the only technological advancement in vehicles. Some new tools are specifically intended to make your drive safer.

No one can argue about the risks of distraction when it comes to modern displays and gadgets in vehicles. And with the growing number of distracted driving accidents, it’s definitely a safety concern. Using technology to make our roads safer seems like a move in the right direction, and one that should be commended.

Federal guidelines will require high-tech safety in new vehicles

The federal government is working on requirements that would compel automakers to use the latest technology in accident prevention. As Tech Times reports, this includes collision avoidance technology that would allow vehicles to sense one another and prevent accidents even when a driver is distracted or simply doesn’t see the other car.

With collision avoidance technology, vehicles would emit a constant radio signal, identifying their location, speed, and the direction they are traveling. In this way, vehicles would communicate with one another, giving each other a head’s up to their presence and warning the driver if a crash was imminent.

Working up to a distance of about 300 yards, the technology could warn a driver if a speeding vehicle was about to run a stop light, or if traffic was stopped ahead before you even see brake lights.

The shift we are seeing in this technology is towards accident prevention rather than accident survival. Older technology was designed to protect vehicle occupants in case of an accident. Now, safety engineers are trying to avoid the accident altogether.

The NHTSA reports that accidents where a vehicle runs off the road account for 23 percent of all crashes, rear-end collisions for 28 percent, and lane changes for 9 percent. They suggest that all of these may be prevented with vehicle collision avoidance technology. Electronic stability control systems could reduce loss-of-control accidents by 40 percent for cars, according to the agency, and as much as 70 percent for SUVs.

Another simple high-tech change to reduce auto accidents

In-vehicle displays will become larger, better, and more interactive—potentially increasing the risk of distraction-related crashes. While accident-avoidance technology may alert a driver who is about to rear-end someone, a simple change could reduce the amount of time spent looking away from the road.

According to a report in the Washington Post, something as simple as changing the font in on-board displays could reduce distractions. A different typeface could reduce the amount of time you look away, on average, by a distance of 50 feet traveling at highway speeds.

A company called Monotype has been working on a font called Burlingame, designed to give drivers the quickest read. Just like street signs are designed with a font created to be visible at night and from the greatest distance, these in-vehicle fonts will be created to give drivers information as fast as possible.

As distracted driving laws and enforcement across the nation focus on reducing the use of cell phones behind the wheel, federal officials and vehicle makers are using technology to keep you connected and safe, showing that vehicle technology can help as much as it can harm, and developing it in the right manner could help reduce the rate of auto accidents across the country.