A new car technology referred to as lane-keeping technology may help reduce the number of car accidents caused by drowsy driving, fatigue or inattentive driving in the Lowell area. While the technology offers the potential to reduce car accidents, the technology may eventually spur riskier behavior among drivers.
Currently multiple car companies offer lane-keeping systems on some car models. Ford is one car manufacturer that is slated to offer its "lane-keeping technology" on two of its 2013 models. Ford's lane-keeping system relies on a camera mounted to the rear-view mirror inside its models. The camera analyzes the lane markings on the road to determine whether the driver is within the lane. If a driver drifts outside of the lane markings without using a turn signal, the system vibrates the steering wheel to warn the driver. If the driver does not respond to the warning, the system engages the power steering of the vehicle and turns the vehicle back to the center of the lane.
While the technology of lane-keeping systems represents a chance to reduce car accidents caused by vehicles that drift out of lane, the technology is not yet perfect. If the system is not able to recognize road markings, it cannot provide assistance to drivers. Lane-keeping systems generally have problems recognizing markings through turns and in inclement weather.
Even if the technology is perfected, lane-keeping technology may created an unintended consequence according to the director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford. According to the director, who is also an associate professor of mechanical engineering, if the system performs well, roadways may not be safer. As vehicles are made safer, drivers may tend to engage in riskier behavior behind the wheel thereby possibly offsetting gains in safety.
Source: The New York Times, "Trying to nudge drowsy drivers," Randall Stross, Jan. 21, 2012