A recent study by the Automobile Association of America found that 32 percent of drivers surveyed admitted to driving at some time when they were so tired it took effort to keep their eyes open. A study from 2010 found that 16.5 percent of all traffic fatalities resulted from driver drowsiness. Ford is introducing a new technology that it hopes will lower these disturbing statistics.
System keeps drivers between the lines
Ford plans to introduce its new Lane Keeping System in 2013 Fusion and Explorer models. The technology, designed to keep drivers between the lines, will cause the steering wheel to vibrate if the car crosses a traffic line without signaling first. If the driver does not respond, the car will automatically ease itself back between the lines.
Similar systems on higher-end cars
Similar safety systems are sometimes found in higher end luxury cars from makers like Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. Ford is seeking to change that by making the LKS an option in a midsize, mainstream vehicle.
Monitors road markings
The Ford LKS uses a digital camera mounted on the car’s windshield to record and track road markings when the vehicle is traveling at 40 mph or higher. Michael Kane, a development engineer at Ford, explains:
“Fusion’s Lane Keeping System combines a digital imaging sensor with our own state-of-the-art control software to process images and determine what level of warning or assistance to provide to the driver. We’ve put a lot of effort into ensuring the accuracy of the lane detection and the smoothness of the assist.”
Detects driver drowsiness
The system is also designed to detect drowsiness from driving patterns.
“If a driver is tired, this can often be detected by the car constantly drifting back and forth across the road,” said Kane.
Suspected drowsiness is depicted on a dashboard gauge by a steaming cup of coffee. As the needle edges toward the coffee cup, drivers are urged to take a break by a chime sound. The warnings become more insistent if the driver does not pull over.
All these features need to be turned on and can be adjusted to suit the driver’s comfort level.
Debuts at NAIAS
The new Ford Fusion will debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit from Jan. 9 to 22.
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