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With nearly 70 percent of the nation’s roads in snowy regions, the majority of Americans have had a “white-knuckle” driving experience in their past. Winter roads claim the lives of 1,300 people every year and injure 116,800, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Fortunately, new features including forward collision alerts and lane departure warnings, are protecting Americans on slick roads. The following five features have been instrumental in protecting families on the road during the winter season.
1. Forward collision warning and auto-braking
Vehicles can sense hazards in the road, warn the driver and brake the car to prevent a crash. If a driver is following someone who slams on the brakes, for example, a combination of sensors, laser beams and cameras detect the problem and alert the driver. Assistive technology automatically applies the brakes to prevent a crash. The driver resumes control as soon as he or she applies pressure to the brake.
2. Lane departure warning system
Keeping drivers in their respective lanes on slippery roads is essential to highway safety. If a car starts to drift into another lane, the driver is alerted to the hazard by a buzzer, warning light or vibration.
3. Adaptive headlights
Visibility can be an issue on winter roads. Traditional headlights shine straight ahead, but adaptive headlights react to the steering wheel. If a driver turns the wheel to the right, the headlights follow to increase visibility.
Insurance companies have noticed a 10 percent drop in the number of property damage liability claims in cars that have adaptive headlights, according to a study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute.
4. LED taillights
When snow is falling, spotting taillights ahead can be a trying task. Halogen light bulbs were the standard, but now more manufacturers are moving to LED bulbs. LED bulbs outshine halogen bulbs, which gives winter drivers an edge when visibility is low.
5. Traction control
In slippery conditions, tires can lose traction and spin. The traction control feature helps tires grip such slippery roads. In wet conditions, tires can lose traction and spin. Traction control uses sensors to measure rotational speed in tires and triggers the engine to adjust the level of power the vehicle needs to regain control. If needed, the sensors can pump the brakes to keep the driver from losing control.