An interior view of a self-driving vehicle with heads up display and advanced digital graphic of the vehicle’s exterior

Using Technology to Enjoy Your Time on the Road

An interior view of a self-driving vehicle with heads up display and advanced digital graphic of the vehicle’s exterior

Using Technology to Enjoy Your Time on the Road

Whether you're commuting or on a road trip, most new cars today offer advanced safety technology from smartphone integration to collision prevention.

More than 250 million cars and trucks travel America’s roadways, and their occupants are spending a significant amount of time inside their vehicles. According to a 2016 AAA study, American drivers average more than 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year. As a result, car and tech companies continually look for ways to reduce the stress of driving and make time spent in your car more comfortable. Next time you hit the road, you might find yourself utilizing some of this technology to make your trip a little smoother.

Smartphone Integration

Your smartphone and your vehicle no longer need to operate as two separate technological entities. Instead, most new vehicles now offer some form of smartphone integration, which offers connected features that include navigation, messaging, and phone calls. Although many auto makers have their own technology for connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are universal systems that work using your smartphone.

A close view of a person driving a car with an advanced in-dash system and a tablet with various charts

Once your smartphone connects to your vehicle, you are ready to access its features using either a touch-screen display or voice commands. These systems make navigating unfamiliar territory much easier, and many even point you to important points of interest and necessities, such as the nearest gas stations and popular restaurants. One downside to this type of system is that it relies on your smartphone reception, which is sometimes spotty in rural areas.

Advanced Self-Driving Capability

As vehicles become more autonomous, they are able to take over more driving functions. Advanced self-driving is just the latest in a long line of systems that gives more control to the vehicle. Although much of this technology is still developing, auto makers like Audi, Volvo, Tesla, and Mercedes-Benz have already made impressive headway. For now, road-ready self-driving capabilities include features like traffic-jam assist, cameras to predict movements up to two cars ahead, and adaptive cruise control. If you face a long commute every day, a combination of these features may relieve some of your stress and make driving a little easier.

Safety Features

Some of the most compelling car advancements are being made in driver safety. While these advancements help reduce the likelihood and severity of accidents, they also reduce much of the stress that comes with navigating the roadways. The most popular safety features include the following:

  1. Rear Cameras

    Rear backup cameras are no longer a novelty. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has mandated that all new cars must include backup cameras by May 2018. A rear camera makes backing up and navigating far easier and incredibly safer, as it eliminates the low blind spots that make driving in reverse dangerous.

  2. Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist

    Lane departure warning uses cameras around the vehicle to monitor the location of your car and alert you when it drifts near the road’s lane marking. Older models sound an alert but depend on you to correct the vehicle’s position, while newer versions utilize the latest technology, called lane keeping assist, to keep the vehicle centered within the lane without driver assistance.

  3. Forward Collision Warning with Automatic Braking

    Forward collision warning with automatic braking is an important technology that sounds an alert if your vehicle closes in on something too quickly. By using cameras, laser, or radar, the car detects an impending collision and applies emergency automatic braking to help stop the car. This braking system doesn’t always eliminate a collision, but it at least minimizes the severity of the impact.

An aerial view of a traffic jam during rush hour at sunset

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