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Can You Trust Your Auto Collision Avoidance System?

Collision Avoidance SystemCollision Avoidance System
Published on
November 7, 2023

It is a given that every driver should always place safety first. To do that, it’s imperative that when driving, your focus should be on the road at all times. But even if we all do that, we still remain human and we make mistakes. And one mistake on the road can lead to your own and other people’s deaths.

This is where Auto Collision Avoidance Systems, sometimes referred to as CAS, can be very useful - as long as we don’t see them as replacements for human drivers but as tools to make our driving better.

What exactly is an Auto Collision Avoidance System?

Modern cars often feature a variety of collision avoidance systems. A few of the more common types include:

  • FCW or Forward Collision Warning. These systems give either an audible or a visual alert to warn the driver of the imminent risk of collision. According to IIHS data, there has been a drop of 27% in front-to-rear collisions where this technology is used.
  • BSW or Blind-spot Warning. These systems give the driver an audible or visual warning that there is another vehicle in his or her blind spot. Some of them also give an additional warning if the turn indicator is activated while there is another vehicle in the blind spot. According to IIHS data, there is a 23% drop in lane-change crashes that cause injuries when this technology is used.
  • LDW or Lane Departure Warning. This type of system alerts the driver when he or she crosses lane markings. Statistics show a drop of 11% in head-on and sideswipe crashes where this technology is used - and if accidents do occur, there is a 21% drop in injuries.
  • Automatic and active braking systems. These include AEB (Automatic Emergency Braking) and Rear Automatic Emergency Braking. In both cases, the system automatically applies the vehicle’s brakes to prevent a collision by using sensors such as lasers or radar.
  • Rearview cameras to help eliminate blind spots and in the process prevent accidents.

Auto Collision Avoidance Systems often use augmented reality technology, e.g. in their ability (or sometimes inability) to distinguish vehicles from pedestrians. Some of these systems even incorporate autonomous speed controls that enable a vehicle to stop without the driver taking any action whatsoever.

If all of that sounds too good to be true, it’s because it sometimes is. Various tests by industry experts have revealed that Auto Collision Systems become less effective when visibility decreases, for example, when the snow blows, there is dense fog, or there is too much glare.

To fully understand how these systems can help to improve your driving and what their limitations are, it is crucial to understand how they work.

How do Auto Collision Avoidance Systems work?

Most of these systems depend on cameras that are placed on both sides of the vehicle, for example, collision avoidance and lane departure warning. These cameras scan the road for marker lines and painted lines all the time. Should these lines become faded over time, however, or snow covers the road, it could severely impact the effectiveness of the systems that depend on them. Apart from that, the majority of cars currently fitted with ACA systems don’t warn the driver if the lane markers become unreadable or the system goes offline.

As far as BSW or Blind-Spot Warning is concerned radar technology is often employed. There could, e.g., be a small radar transmitter and receiver on the vehicle’s side or in the rear fender. But even the lens getting wet could impact the usefulness of such a system.

The bulk of adaptive speed control and forward collision warning/mitigation systems also use radar, typically in the form of a radar unit located behind the vehicle’s front grille. Although car manufacturers do their utmost to isolate these sensors from the effects of the weather and road debris, snow and ice building up on the vehicle’s front face could cause these systems to malfunction.

It’s for this reason that the majority of auto manufacturers specifically program their Auto Collision Avoidance Systems to display a “clean radar sensor” message when they’re unable to pick up a signal from the sensors because of a buildup of dirt, snow, etc.

If you have a car with a rearview camera system, you will already know that they could become non-functional very quickly if ice or snow starts building up on their lenses. Even if these cameras have a shield to protect them, they can still become disabled if ice or another obstruction makes it impossible for the cover to open.

Is there a place for Auto Collision Avoidance Systems on our roads?

Autonomous driving technology and Auto Collision Avoidance Systems are unlikely to disappear from the market anytime soon because they have already proven their ability to prevent or reduce accidents. Their biggest single risk is, however, that drivers might become complacent and start relying too much on them.

Think for a moment about how we have become totally used to features like cruise control, power windows, and navigation systems. And when we start to rely solely on autonomous technology it’s a lot easier to have a momentary attention lapse that could lead to an accident.

If your car has an Auto Collision Avoidance System, always keep the following in mind:

  • Regard these systems as tools to help make your driving better, not to replace your skills.
  • Don’t become distracted while driving. Always be aware of what’s happening on the road.
  • Be aware that such a system will not be able to avoid an accident at all times. In the final instance, you are in control of the vehicle and you are responsible for making decisions.
  • Keep the sensors your car’s CAS system needs to function properly, such as cameras and radars, clean and regularly have the whole system inspected by a quality service center in Omaha/La Vista.

The bottom line: never blindly trust your vehicle’s Auto Collision Avoidance System

There might come a time when you will have a robotic driver called James who takes you everywhere you want to be while you are taking a nap in the back seat. That time has not arrived yet. The technology behind our current range of Auto Collision Avoidance Systems is meant to augment your driving skills, not replace them. So keep your phone off and your eyes on the road when you are driving. And if there is any reason to suspect that your car’s CAS system needs attention, visit our collision center in Omaha/La Vista and we can point you in the right direction.


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