Collision Avoidance Systems: What Are They and How Do They Work?
collision avoidance system detecting obstacle ahead
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Without proper collision avoidance systems, your drivers and vehicles are flying blind. In 2019, 118,000 large trucks were involved in crashes resulting in an injury—a 5% increase from 2018, according to the National Safety Council. In addition, a total of 5,005 people died in large-truck crashes—a whopping 36% increase since 2010.  One highly publicized example occurred in Arizona when a milk tanker traveling at high speeds collided with seven passenger vehicles, killing four people and injuring at least nine. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will examine whether equipping the truck with electronic safety devices could have prevented the crash. Clearly, truck accidents pose a serious threat to our nation’s drivers. If you are committed to improving your fleet safety program, implementing a state-of-the-art collision avoidance system is essential.

Top driver related accident causes for fleets

What is a collision avoidance system?

A collision avoidance system is a safety system that prevent accidents by assisting drivers in the moments before an incident. These systems utilize many different technologies, including cameras, GPS, G-force sensors, radar, laser and artificial intelligence. They monitor what is happening around the vehicle and in the truck itself. Computers then process the information, which prompts the system to take action.

How do collision avoidance systems work?

Collision avoidance systems respond to potentially dangerous situations in two ways. The first is to alert the driver to the risk through a light, sound, vibration, or all of these. Vehicles with front and rear cameras provide visual or audio warnings of obstacles. Collision avoidance systems also assist the driver. They do this by overriding the driver’s actions in the seconds before a potential collision. For example, if a driver is non-responsive, the system could apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate an accident.

What are the components of a collision avoidance system?

With the use of cameras, lasers and radar, collision avoidance systems include the following to either alert or assist the driver:

Driver alert technology

  • Blind-Spot Warning (BSW): these systems catch vehicles your drivers can’t see that are next to or behind the truck. If a car is detected there, drivers get a visual warning. When drivers activate the turn signal, some BSW systems give an audible alert to indicate that changing lanes is unsafe. Studies show that crash involvement rates in lane-change crashes were 14% lower among vehicles with blind spot monitoring than those without.
  • Cross Traffic Warning: these radar units detect approaching vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians, providing the driver with an audible alert when they notice one or more of them approaching from the sides. Often, a visual warning will appear on the reversing camera display.
  • Forward-Collision Warning (FCW): front crash prevention systems use cameras, radar or other sensors to alert the driver to obstacles in the roadway. In data analyzed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), trucks equipped with FCW had 22% fewer crashes than those without the technology.
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW): this system assesses where the truck is driving and detects the lines on the road. If the vehicle is in danger of leaving the lane, this triggers a warning, helping truck drivers to remain alert.
  • Pedestrian Detection System: these systems use sensors to monitor the roadway ahead. If the system senses a pedestrian ahead, it will warn the driver to apply the brakes. Many systems will also spot the presence of bicyclists in the truck’s trajectory.

lane departure warning and detection by AI video dash cams

Driver assistance technology

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are safety systems that use advanced technologies to assist drivers. Using a combination of sensor technologies, the system either alerts the driver or takes action through features like:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control: these systems use radar or lasers to adjust the cruise control speed in order to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
  • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB): brakes are automatically applied based on feedback from sensors to prevent a collision or minimize collision speed.
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC): ESC automatically applies the brakes to help steer the truck during a loss of traction. An onboard computer monitors several sensors to determine which wheels to brake and accelerate.
  • Parking Assist: feedback from rear-view cameras and sensors in addition to turning radius lines allow trucks to steer themselves into a parking spot while the driver controls the speed.
  • Rear Automatic Emergency Braking: brakes are automatically applied to prevent the truck from backing into a person or object using a cross-traffic monitoring system or sensors like radar or lasers.

parking assist powered by rear view cameras and sensors

The future of collision avoidance systems

While there is value in implementing collision avoidance systems, other technologies can help take your fleet safety program even further. That’s why AI video dash cams are the future of driver safety. AI dash cams are a proactive in-cab safety solution that help you detect incidents and coach drivers in real-time.  When combined with vehicle telematics, they perform many of the duties of collision avoidance systems. Dashboards also provide you with scorecards and trend data to facilitate ongoing training and ensures accuracy in determining accident liability.

Research shows that collision avoidance systems work. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that automatic emergency braking and forward collision warnings could prevent more than 40% of crashes in which semi-trucks rear-end other vehicles. And another study revealed that when rear crashes happened, the systems reduces the damage and injuries. In short, collision avoidance systems can save lives. It’s time you include them as part of your cutting-edge fleet safety program

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