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5 tech innovations making cars safer

Five tech innovations making driving safer

Tech innovations are making cars safer, with 2014 marking the safest year on record.

The stats for that year (the most recent available) show 1.07 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, a 25 percent decrease over 2005, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A big part of that decrease was due to new technology that has become more commonplace in standard car models. Here are some of the best tech innovations making cars safer today.

Tire pressure monitoring systems

5 tech innovations making cars safer

Driving with low tire pressure is dangerous. A blown tire can cause you to lose control and strand you on the side of the road. A tire pressure monitoring system, or TPMS, can help prevent such an accident.

A TPMS is a set of small sensors inside your tires that monitors air pressure. When the pressure gets too low, the TPMS turns on a light on the driver's dash to warn you about the issue. The alert could mean one of your tires is underinflated, has a bubble in the sidewall or is punctured.  

Thanks to the TREAD Act of 2000, carmakers are required to install a TPMS in all passenger cars and light trucks for model year 2008 and beyond.

Blind spot warning systems

While correctly placed side mirrors will eliminate most blind spots, many manufacturers include blind spot warning systems on new cars.

See also: Car insurance costs soar 44% after just one claim

These warn the driver -- through a light, sound or vibration -- when something is in his or her blind spot. Blind spot monitoring usually doesn't come standard, but you can add it to many vehicles such as the Chevrolet Cruze.

Backup cameras

5 tech innovations making cars safer

The backup camera is a pretty straightforward concept: Put a camera on the back of your car so you can see what's behind you while you're backing up.

In a 2010 report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that about 210 people die every year in backup-related incidents.

All passenger vehicles are required to include rear-visibility technology on standard models by 2018.

Forward collision warning systems

5 tech innovations making cars safer

Once only available in luxury cars, forward collision warning systems are now seen in more mainstream autos. Front sensors detect what other cars are doing, and they warn the driver if a collision seems likely.

More advanced systems will automatically apply the brakes if an object is approaching too quickly or during an accident. Newer systems are even able to detect pedestrians or cyclists.  

Even though it is new technology, forward collision warning systems work well. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, fewer claims were filed for property damage liability coverage in cars equipped with forward collision warning systems with automatic braking. 

Electronic stability control

5 tech innovations making cars safer

Electronic stability control (ESC) systems have greatly improved passenger safety.

When the ESC detects a loss in steering control, the system applies brakes to individual wheels and simultaneously reduces engine power. This is effective in helping the driver maintain control, and ESC systems can react faster than the driver. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, ESC lowers the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by up to 56 percent.

Electronic stability control systems are now required in passenger cars for model year 2012 and beyond.

About the writer: Will Kinton thinks life is too short to drive boring cars, and enjoys sharing his passion for them. For more, be sure to follow him on Twitter at @willkinton247.

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