Add-On Safety Features for Older Cars
The older a car is, the more likely it will be in a fatal accident. However, there are auto safety features people can buy to add on to cars that do not have them, according to two recent Consumer Reports (CS) articles. The articles feature two systems that CS has tested.
A Consumer Reports article written by Gordon Hard appearing on Fox News Auto says that according to new research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the driver of a car that is 18 or more years old is 71% more likely to die in a car accident than the driver of a car three years old or newer. “That’s pretty sobering — especially for parents looking to put their newly-minted teenage driver in an affordable used car,” Hard writes.
The NHTSA study, which addresses only fatal crashes, adjusted for various variables, including the age of the driver, his or her blood alcohol content, the time of day, the speed the vehicle was traveling at, and the type of road, Hard reports. One variable that makes a big difference, according to the research, is seat belt use, as wearing a set belt cuts down on the risk of death in a crash as follows.
According the the study, the chance that a driver will be killed in a crash falls from 46% in 19-year-old cars to 26% in the newest cars, when the driver is wearing a seat belt, Hard writes. Those drivers not wearing seat belts have a 78% greater chance of being killed in a crash in older cars, but only a 72% chance in newer cars. Thus, as Hard notes, “Failing to buckle up, it turns out, removes most of the benefit of driving a newer car.”
Another Consumer Reports article appearing in the November 2013 print edition of the magazine (and in an abridged version on ABClocal.go.com) discusses two safety systems that people can add on to their older cars. One is called Mobileye 560, and the other is called Goshers Blind Spot Detection System.
Mobileye 560, which costs $850 plus $150 for installation, adds more than one safety system to older cars. Consumer Reports found that it works well to alert the driver about what is in front of the car, such as other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, lane markings, and more. It does so via a small camera mounted behind the inside rearview mirror, and sends alerts to a small screen and built-in speaker.
The system gives drivers visual and audible warnings if they go over the line of their lane without signaling, or if they follow the vehicle in front too closely. One test, using a life-sized dummy, found that Mobileye will alert a driver if they are about to hit a pedestrian while driving slower than 31 miles per hour.
Mobileye can also switch your vehicle’s headlights from high to low beam for oncoming cars, and read speed limit signs to let you know if you are driving too fast. “It’s mounted in the front, so what it’s seeing is what’s in front of you, which is great, but it can’t help you out with blind-spot monitoring or a backup camera,” said Jim Travers, Consumer Reports.
Each type of warning in Mobileye has its own audible and visual warnings, and some functions can be turned off if a driver finds they are not useful, Consumer Reports writes. A smartphone can function as the system’s display by using a wireless Bluetooth connection and a separate Mobileye app. While Consumer Reports likes the Mobileye system, it found one annoying feature: “At speeds faster than 19 mph, the display constantly shows the number of seconds — up to 2.5 — that your car is behind the one in front.”
The Goshers system is designed to do only one thing, alert a driver if a vehicle is approaching in a car’s blind spot. It does so via sensors mounted on each side of the vehicle’s rear bumper, corresponding warning lights for the car’s interior, and an audible alarm, Consumer Reports writes, adding: “We found that the system reliably warned us of other cars but that it can be a bit overzealous, with guardrails and other objects causing false alerts.” The CS testers found that the Goshers system was more helpful when they adjusted its sensitivity to the lowest setting, and opted to be warned only when a turn signal was activated.
CS’s Travers cautions that although both systems work as advertised, neither is a substitute for a driver’s using the rearview and side mirross, paying attention, and looking over his or her shoulder to change lanes. The Goshers system is not easy to install, and took a CS mechanic four hours, Consumer Reports writes. Thus the cost of the system will be more than the $250 purchase price if a vehicle owner needs to hire an expert to install it.
Here is a video about Mobileye’s rear-end collision warning: