Initial studies not good for lane departure systems

This is a bit of a surprise.

The high-tech, high-price systems are supposed to help inattentive drivers stay in their own lanes, not stray disastrously into nearby cars. But vehicles with the systems showed increased, not decreased, crashes in a study being released today by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group for insurers.

The unexpected finding that lane-departure setups increased crashes as much as 10% is inexplicable, IIHS says.

David Zuby, chief research officer at IIHS, speculates that users might find the warning sounds or vibration alerts used by lane departure systems annoying and shut them off. Or the alarms are too frequent as drivers stray slightly side to side in normal diving, and so are ignored.

That, of course, explains why they might do no good, but not necessarily why they’d do harm, he acknowledges.

The result also could be a statistical quirk, because few cars in the study had the safety feature.

This is just one study so we shouldn’t be alarmed. These things take time for drivers to figure out, but it also highlights the fact that in some ways cars are becoming too complicated to operate properly for some people.

  

Telematics starting to influence car insurance market

This story from Cleveland.com highlights an important new trend in the auto insurance business, and it will likely affect you and your own car insurance rates in the future.

When Zshavina Meacher of Cleveland traded in her car for a new 2011 Chevy Malibu last summer, her insurance premium jumped to $510 every six months. Her insurer, Progressive Corp., asked her whether she wanted to cut her rate.

If Meacher agreed to install a device in her car that monitors how safely she drives and the results were good, her rates would go down. If the results weren’t so good, her rates would stay the same. She agreed.

During the first few weeks, the device told Meacher that she slammed on her brakes a lot. She stopped the hard braking.
In February, the 23-year-old’s insurance bill dropped by $120 per six months, or 24 percent.

Meacher is happy her rates went down. And Progressive is happy the risk of Meacher getting into an accident went down. Fewer claims will help keep Mayfield-based Progressive profitable.

The technology that makes this possible is called telematics, and you’re probably going to be hearing more about it as more car insurance companies start using it and more states start permitting it. Along with Progressive, State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide, Travelers and American Family are also trying it, though there are some patent disputes in play as Progressive tries to protect its innovation.

The key is that it works, as information about driving habits is more valuable to insurance companies than demographic information. Also, it’s not surprising that drivers will also be more careful if they know they are being monitored.

But it also raises all sorts of privacy concerns. When does health monitoring start? Do we want insurance companies knowing everything about us?

  

Turn Your Ride Into Your Mobile Office


Image Courtesy of Flickr

Everybody knows how great being on the road feels. With the rubber and the concrete under you, it’s easy to feel invincible and mighty. But what a lot of people forget about being on the road is that being on the road isn’t just a great feeling. It also gives you time to work. If you haven’t thought about your ride as the ultimate mobile office, read on.

Staying in Communication

One of the best things LG cell phones can do for you is keep you in touch with everyone you need to stay connected to. Regardless of where you travel or where they may happen to be, the most important people in your life can always reach you when you’re in your car. While the cell phone may have first become available in the early 80s, never before has its power been so complete.

This ultimate connectivity also keeps going through texting and the ability to check your email. With a mobile web browser added to the mix, you can stay in touch in more ways than ever before. Whereas you used to need a computer to keep up full communications, now as long as you have your phone, you’ve got the world at your fingertips.

The Open Door Policy

Usually, the open door policy is little more than a method to placate people in the workplace without really changing anything. Your boss knows that most people have very little to report that won’t either get them fired or contribute to a downright hostile workplace. Sadly, the way most companies work this is the best you can hope for. This is another great reason to get in your car and let your open door policy turn into something entirely different.

The new vision of the open door policy is a lot different than its general precursor. On the road, you’re the boss and your decisions are final. You can let this make you into a tyrant, or you can rule with a gentle hand on the wheel and a little give on the throttle. With the ability to stay in touch with everyone and get things done, you’re on your way in more ways than one.

Staying Organized the Easy Way

Today’s phone do a lot more than just letting you stay connected to people. You could do that with a phone years ago, but today you can do a whole lot more. Nowadays you can push the limits in yet another way by downloading a huge number of apps. There are more than just games available to you, though. You can also pick up ways to make every mile more productive, including apps to keep you supremely organized.

It’s not a very wise idea to take your eyes off the road too much, so anything that keeps you going smoothly from point A to all points thereafter is a good thing. Apps are what separate the ultimately productive driver from some kid on the side of the road rocking a set of training wheels. Apps accomplish the same task, but they give you way more flexibility.

  

Technology continues to evolve in the auto industry

There is a lot going on in the auto industry from a technology standpoint. Below are some of the in-car technology that is on the horizon – currently being worked on in R&D labs across the globe – that will make a huge difference in all of our driving experiences, as drivers and passengers.

Heads up Display (HUD): This next-gen head-up display technology could transform the everyday windshield into a device that can make driving safer and more convenient. This enhanced vision system creates an augmented reality, leveraging night vision, navigation and camera-based sensor technologies to project images produced by ultra violet lasers onto the surface of the windshield.

Driverless “Crash-Proof” Cars: Vehicles like the Chevrolet EN-V are in the works (I’ve attached a picture). These vehicles are designed with safety in mind and have been developed especially for urban crowded areas, but will change the driving scene for everyone when they hit the roads. We are still a few years out, but making huge headway in the technology for autonomous or “crash-proof” vehicles like the EN-V.

Interactive Backseat Windows: A new virtual reality type concept in rear seat entertainment technology that uses the windows themselves. GM’s R&D team has been working on apps for windows that allow you to draw, play games, “peek” into other locations around the globe in real time, share music and other messages with other passengers on the road and much more with the touch of your fingers. Here’s a link to a video demonstrating some of the apps.

The “Connected” Vehicle: Looking at the future of in-car technology, Wi-Fi and smart phone connectivity are going to be standard. Right now the next generation in-car infotainment systems are hitting the industry with features like voice activated systems and screens that are more like tablets. The Cadillac CUE system is a great example of this. In the future, we are going to be more connected than ever, with our vehicles going on the grid, allowing for autonomous vehicles that “talk” to other cars on the road.

  

Delphi Selects TeleNav for Its Next Gen Navigation Systems

Turn-by-turn navigation for cars has been a boon for those among us who can barely find our way around the block, but as competition between in-dash units and smaller, portable units heat up, many automaker suppliers are revolutionizing their navigation offerings to keep a leg up on the competition, and help get consumers where they want to go, faster and easier. Delphi, for instance, has teamed up with TeleNav to provide navigation solutions that will work with cars’ newer infotainment systems.

The traditional problem with in-dash navigation systems is that they don’t age well. You buy a car and the navigation is perfect, but as time marches on, other systems get more features, better layouts, and, most importantly, more accurate route information. So by the time your car is five years old, the navigation system becomes a hinderance rather than a help. TeleNav looks to change that.

Telenav’ s new system will bring new features and usability to your car that will work seamlessly and easily. Some new features include:

Global Maps and Places: Search, localized maps, and POIs for more than 60 countries around the world.

Live Traffic: Save time with live traffic updates that automatically reroute you around traffic jams or road congestion.

Local Weather: Get real-time weather and forecasts for your current location

3D Landmarks: 3D buildings and historic landmarks make it easier to navigate

Voice Control: Stay safe and keep your hands on the wheel with voice-activated commands

Junction View: A navigation view that makes complex lane changes simple and easy

TeleNav and Delphi look to have these systems in OEM offerings by 2012. It won’t be too long then until the next generation of navigation technology.

  

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