DETROIT – Safety belts, air bags and strong passenger compartment structures are responsible for saving more lives in crashes than ever. But what if those collisions never happened in the first place?
Research shows 90 percent of crashes are caused by human error, and Chevrolet’s new available crash-avoidance technologies are designed to help drivers maneuver around rear-end, backup, blind spot and lane-change collisions with systems that send alerts via beeps, flashing icons and even by vibrating the driver’s seat.
“For decades, the focus has been protecting people from being injured or killed in a crash,” said General Motors Active Safety Technical Fellow Raymond Kiefer. “While we’re still keenly focused on that, now we have a real opportunity to help prevent those crashes with technologies that warn drivers of potential dangers.”
The alerts, however, are only as effective as a customer’s willingness to keep them turned on.
At the North American International Auto Show, which opens to the public on Jan. 17, a safety experience in the Chevrolet Theater with a massive, high resolution 73-foot-long, 20-foot-tall display screen will show how Chevrolet vehicles are designed to prevent, protect and respond to help keep vehicle occupants safe on the road.
According to a consumer survey by AutoTrader.com and GM customer research, one of the more appealing crash-avoidance technologies is side blind zone alert, which helps drivers avoid striking a vehicle in their blind spot during a lane-change maneuver. Improper lane changes account for about 9 percent of crashes reported to police each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“With so many great technologies available to help consumers have a more enjoyable experience in the car, why not put them to use to keep them safe, too?” said Michelle Krebs, AutoTrader.com senior analyst. “Drivers in high-traffic markets will do well with collision-avoidance features that keep them safe from wild drivers.”
Side blind zone alert is available on the Chevrolet Cruze, Impala, SS, Traverse, Tahoe and Suburban, and may be offered alone or with lane change alert technology. When offered alone, the system uses one left and one right short-range radar – hidden in the rear corners of the vehicle – to monitor up to 11 feet back from the side mirror and one lane over from both sides of the vehicle.
An amber lane change alert icon is lit in the left or right side mirror when a moving vehicle is detected in the side blind zone, and it flashes if a turn signal is activated in the direction of the other vehicle.
A lit icon means it may be unsafe to change lanes. Drivers still need to check mirrors, glance over their shoulder and use turn signals.
“Technologies like side blind zone alert provide an extra set of ‘eyes’ to drivers with limited mobility due to an injury or chronic condition,” said Kiefer. “It’s also helpful to drivers who may find it more difficult to see around head restraints and pillars.”
Rear cross traffic alert has your back
Another available technology that allows drivers to ‘see’ better is rear cross traffic alert, which can help drivers avoid hitting approaching traffic when backing up, such as in a parking lot or where the driveway meets the roadway.
Rear cross traffic alert uses short-range radar on the left and right rear corners of the vehicle. When approaching left- or right-cross traffic is observed, red flashing triangles appear in the rear vision camera screen, and three left or right seat pulses or beeps occur. It’s available on 2015 Cruze, Impala, SS, Traverse, Tahoe and Suburban.
Using the speed of the vehicle and input from a forward-facing radar mounted in the front grille or camera mounted in front of the rearview mirror, Chevrolet’s available forward collision alert system provides alerts to drivers who approach a vehicle they are following in front of them too quickly. It’s present on 2015 Volt, Malibu, Impala, Equinox, SS, Traverse, Colorado, Silverado, Tahoe and Suburban.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that basic forward collision alert systems have reduced rear-end crashes by 7 percent. Applying the technology across the passenger vehicle fleet could prevent 879 fatal crashes a year.
“Customers can configure our system to adjust the alert to a near, medium or far timing setting” said Kiefer. “Our goal is that our customers leave safety systems on and take full advantage of the potential safety benefits.”