BROMSGROVE, United Kingdom --- A new United Kingdom report from just-auto.com forecasts a bright future for driver assistance technologies despite consumer apathy.
The U.K. is expected to adopt more safety legislation in the near future, in response to research showing that driver error is one of the most common causes of traffic accidents. But surveys show that many drivers assign low priority to out-of-sight safety items such as anti-lock brakes (which are now mandatory in Europe), stability control and radar-controlled cruise control.
The report found that the most popular comfort and safety features that U.K. drivers want in their cars are items such as satellite navigation, climate control, airbags, iPod ports and add-ons such as cup and mobile phone holders.
Some manufacturers believe that if U.K. insurers offered a lower premium to drivers of cars fitted with driver assistance systems, consumer demand would rise. This was the case in the early stages of the introduction of anti-lock braking systems (ABS). Discussions with insurance groups are ongoing, though progress is reportedly slow.
However, the automotive industry is convinced that a host of driver assistance technologies is coming, accompanied by the European Union's eSafety action program for road safety, which aims to cut in half the number of EU road fatalities by 2010.
Driver assistance systems on the detection and analysis of the vehicle's surroundings are expected to make a major
contribution to the achievement of this aim. Investigations carried out by the German Ministry of Transport have shown that such systems can have a preventive influence on more than 50 percent of all accidents.
Driver assistance systems, either on the road or still on the drawing board, divide into three camps:
** Collision-warning systems --- This is the original term for forward and side radar systems that alert the
driver but do not control engine speed.
** Collision-mitigation systems --- In addition to sending out a warning to the driver --- either through audio, visual
or vibrating the steering wheel --- these systems aim to assess the danger ahead and trigger various active safety features, such as pretensioning the seatbelts.
** Collision-avoidance systems --- Use of these systems means that some degree of control is taken over from the driver if he or she doesn't react in time to avoid a crash.
The most common suite of driver assistance technologies available today includes adaptive cruise control (ACC), lane change assistance, and parking assistance systems.