Our vehicles are changing…are you?
Times are changing. We all know that. Even the things we feel that aren’t changing a lot on the surface are really changing underneath. Of course, I’m referring to our vehicles. Oh sure, the looks change every few years with most models, but our vehicles are also changing behind that shiny exterior shell. These changes can affect you in more ways than your wallet. They can affect your safety and the way you drive the vehicle.
More and more of our new vehicles are being equipped with some form of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems technology. Although Advanced Driver Assistance Systems have been around for many years – such as anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and traction control – modern vehicles have more advanced systems than ever before. Today’s modern technology includes back-up cameras, park assist, blind spot indicators, emergency automatic braking and lane departure warning – just to name a few. Each of these systems has a sensor which monitors everything around the vehicle that will send messages to an on-board computer. There are anywhere from 15 to 25 sensors on modern vehicles; with more on the way with each new technology.
Each of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems is based on intelligent sensor technology. These sensors would include radar, camera, infrared, and ultrasonic varieties. This technology will constantly monitor the environment around the vehicle as well as the trends of the driver to detect potentially dangerous conditions. Once these advanced systems identify a potentially dangerous driving situation, it will warn and/or assist the driver to help them avoid a collision or to lessen the possibility of a collision. Pretty cool, huh? However, these Advanced Driver Assistance Systems may not always work.
Even the slightest shift of a bumper or a door panel can’t be easily detected by the naked eye. Therefore, sensors can be easily compromised. The sensors could be bumped while your vehicle is parked in a parking lot. This means you wouldn’t know something happened. A crack in the windshield may also mean certain sensors, such as those affecting the automatic emergency braking would stop working. In many cases, the check engine light would come on if the sensor was compromised, but that doesn’t always happen. So what can you do?
The first thing to do is to not always rely on the technology to help you drive. The best computer your vehicle has is your brain. Make educated choices, stay focused on the driving task and think like a driver. Secondly, if you’ve noticed an Advanced Driver Assistance System not working properly or even minor damage to your vehicle, get it in to your repair shop and get it checked. The repair shop will need to perform a diagnostic scan of the vehicle to detect exactly what’s wrong. The check engine light means a lot more now than it used to 20 years ago. It doesn’t always mean something was wrong with your gas cap.
Serious personal injury and fatalities are down from years ago. It seems to be due in part to safer vehicles to drive. That is, provided they keep working as they have been designed to work. And although vehicles are changing looks and features which help to protect the driver and their passengers, they can create issues if they stop working. Drivers need to stay in tune with their vehicle more than they ever have in the past. Don’t ignore the warning lights that tell you something may be wrong, and there seems to be a lot of them these days. Ignoring them could affect how safely you’ll be driving. Times are certainly changing; are you?