What is a Lane Departure Warning System?

The Importance of a Lane Departure Warning System

This is quite possibly one of the most well-known features of more technologically advanced vehicles. It’s one of the features that we’ve all heard quite a bit about over the last several years and we can definitely see where it would not only be a neat feature to have, but also where it could save lives and make a huge difference in the way any of us drive our vehicles. This is a standard feature on a lot of newer vehicles and it continues to become more and more popular as well.

What is a Lane Departure Warning System?

This type of system is actually really neat because it uses sensors located all over the vehicle to detect where the lines are on the road. It can actually detect lines on both sides of the vehicle and if the vehicle starts to move too much from the center of the lane it will alert the driver. Most of these systems have flashing lights as well as an audible warning that lets the driver know that they are getting too close to a line and that they need to move the vehicle back to the center.

In some vehicles, the warning system actually goes one step further. Some vehicles actually have a system that will physically move the vehicle if it starts to move too far into another lane. This generally happens after the warning has been given and if the vehicle continues to move in an outward direction or if the vehicle doesn’t seem to be moving the way it should. The vehicle can then actually turn the wheel itself to correct the course and get the vehicle back on track. This type of feature is still being tested in some vehicles but it’s also made its way onto the road in others.

Why It’s Important

When vehicles start to veer to the side while driving it can mean a whole lot of potential danger for those who are driving, for passengers and for others on or near the roadway. The lanes are set up so that a vehicle can easily fit inside the lines and so that several vehicles can travel next to one another without having to worry about getting too close, which can cause an accident. This only works if all drivers stay in their assigned lane, however.

If a driver falls asleep at the wheel, takes their eyes off the road or gets distracted in any other way they could easily lose the concentration that it takes to keep their vehicle traveling in the proper direction and in the right way. That means they might find themselves veering outside of their lines or getting too close to the lines. If that happens it puts them at risk of hitting another vehicle or being hit by another vehicle, which puts everyone in the immediate vicinity in danger.

These types of lane departure warning systems help everyone to avoid this potentially tragic event. No one wants to get into an accident and if a sensor and a warning system can keep these accidents from happening that’s definitely going to be a feature that everyone wants to have. It only takes a moment to become distracted behind the wheel and that moment could mean a dramatic movement of the vehicle. In just a split second a decision that someone makes could result in an accident, but a vehicle that can notify you immediately is definitely going to reduce the risk of anything happening.

How it Works

In general, this system works because there are sensors placed around the vehicle. These are generally video sensors built into the rear view mirror, laser sensors at the front of the vehicle and infrared sensors that are under the vehicle. With these systems all working together it is possible for the vehicle to stay where it needs to be at all times or for the vehicle to know immediately if it is starting to veer in a different direction. The cameras actually create a real time feed that is able to see the lanes and the way that the vehicle is centered between them.

There’s actually an algorithm and a whole process that’s built into the cameras and the computer system that operates them. It’s a process that makes sure the cameras are able to communicate properly and, if there is a lane keep assistance system in place, it makes sure that the vehicle is able to properly and quickly respond to what’s going on. Without all of these systems working together just right the vehicle won’t be able to stay in the right place and the sensors also won’t alert the driver, so it’s a very important computer system to develop.

The Early Versions

Taking a look at some of the earlier versions of this system, it actually started out in approximately 2000 but it was only used by commercial trucks. The first application of it for regular vehicles was in 2001, which was only a year later. Over the next few years more and more companies started looking at lane departure warning systems and what originally started with a company called Iteris and was used only in the Mercedes Actros slowly started to move to Nissan and Toyota. These systems were only available in other countries until approximately 2002.

In 2002 the original system first began to be used in commercial vehicles within the United States. These systems were different from the ones that we have now because instead of lights and beeps they would actually create a rumble sound that was very similar to the sound of running over rumble strips on the highway. This system has continued to evolve since that time however, and it was about two years before the system came to regular, passenger vehicles in the United States and North America. It was in 2004 that the first vehicles started to use this system.

The Infiniti FX and later the M and Crown Majesta were outfitted with this technology. They had cameras installed over the mirror that would keep track of the lines on the road and would sound a warning if a driver started to get too close to the lines or started to move over the lines without activating a turn signal. In 2004 was also when Toyota first started the process of a lane keep assistance system in their Crown Majesta. The vehicle would push the steering wheel slightly if the vehicle started to move too close to the lines.

Throughout the next 14 years vehicles continued to add lane departure warnings and more and more of them started to add in lane keep assistance. These features have actually been proven to reduce the risk of car accidents by as much as 11% and they’ve even been able to reduce the injuries that are caused by accidents by up to 21%. All of this means that lane ADAS are definitely something that you’re going to want on your vehicle and that you can definitely see the benefits of over time. There’s really no drawback to these systems.

Where the IIHS Comes in

The IIHS or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was concerned that people would become too dependent on these types of features and that it would cause them to be less vigilant when they were driving. This was what prompted the studies that we discussed and showed that people are actually no less vigilant just because they have a system that can alert them to a potential problem. Or rather, if they are less vigilant then the system itself is actually able to stop even more accidents and counter the problem because there are fewer than would be expected.

Wrapping it Up

When it comes down to it, lane departure warning systems are an extremely important aspect of new vehicles and they definitely have the potential to create an amazing amount of benefits. These systems can help to keep even more people safe and they can help to cut down on the danger of distracted driving. While nothing can fully compensate for drivers being distracted and not paying adequate attention to the road, this type of system, and the lane keep assistance that has started to go hand-in-hand with it, can most definitely make an impact.

If you’re looking for a vehicle that has some of the best features around and that will provide you with the best safety you’re definitely going to want to take a look at one that has both of these features. They’ll be able to help you stay in your lane, even when you might be distracted. Even more importantly, they’re going to keep the people around you in their lanes (if they have a vehicle equipped with it), which means that you’re going to be a whole lot safer driving down the road as well. There’s really no downside to having this feature and making sure that you and your family are protected.

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