Technology gets blamed for being one of the biggest distractions drivers deal with today. A glance at a text, a scroll through a playlist, a tap to change the GPS, and uh-oh … someone’s car drifts out of the proper lane, putting passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians at risk.
In 2018, distracted driving led to the deaths of 2,841 people, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. So why are carmakers looking to add even more high-tech features to cars?
Experts at Edmunds automotive information service selected five car technologies that they say will reduce distraction for drivers. These new tech tools are designed to produce more focused drivers.
DRIVER MONITORING SYSTEMS
Eyes on the road! BMW, Subaru, and others offer facial-recognition technology inside their vehicles. Cameras measure head and eye movements and recognize if the driver is looking at a phone or falling asleep at the wheel. If such actions are detected, your car will tell you to wake up and drive! In one case, a coffee cup in the dash display lights up if the car’s tech thinks its driver is getting groggy. For cars with advanced cruise control systems, sensors make sure the driver’s hands don’t leave the wheel.
LANE DEPARTURE WARNINGS
Any driving instructor will confirm that our hands tend to follow our eyes. If you’re looking at something on your far left while driving, your car is likely going to drift over the center line, possibly into oncoming traffic! Enter lane-departure warning systems. Sensors track the car’s position. If it strays across lines, the driver might see a new alert in the instrument panel. In some models, a rumble in the driver’s seat rattles the operator back into focus.
LANE KEEPING ASSIST
This feature goes a farther than just calling attention to a lane shift. It takes the extra step of applying a light correction to the steering function—putting the car back in its lane automatically. The driver might feel the wheel tug a bit under his or her hands.
ANDROID AUTO AND APPLE CARPLAY
These two smartphone integration systems come in nearly every new vehicle on the market today. When a driver connects a smartphone to the vehicle, the system displays many of the phone’s apps in its instrument display. Isn’t that more distracting? In some cases, it’s beneficial. Drivers then use hands-free voice controls to hear and respond to text messages, ask for directions, or otherwise communicate without looking at or touching the phone.
LOCKING OUT CONTROLS
Many vehicles from Mazda, Toyota, and Volkswagen still use this older anti-distraction method. These cars will partially lock phone controls while the car is moving so you can’t type on your keyboard. Some won’t even connect to Bluetooth once the car is moving. That must be done before you put ’er in Drive.
Sound like your future car has control issues? Don’t fret. Remember, it’s all done in the name of keeping you—and others—secure, so that you arrive at your destination safely.