High Tech Collision Warning Systems Can Now Make Older Cars Safer, Too

Posted by: Lydia on 14/08/2019

Category: General


The arrival of high tech collision warning systems (CWS) has turned heads in recent years. Some of the car universe’s most cutting-edge brands have released futuristic vehicles that offer a terrific driving experience combined with solid safety innovations. CWS have helped to make drivers feel safer on the roads, and have already prevented a number of crashes.

As great as collision warning systems are, many Aussie drivers have not yet driven a car equipped with one, given that they're so new and many drivers own vehicles at least a few years old. Yet this could all be set to change: these systems are now available for older cars, and their popularity could revolutionise car safety.

CWS at a glance

Over the past decade, we’ve seen cars digitise and accessorise rapidly. A lot of the new features like smartphone GPS integration and WiFi connectivity have changed the driving experience inside the vehicle. The same tech that has driven other innovations elsewhere in the car has led to the installation of collision warning systems.

And there is clear-cut evidence of the benefits it has brought to drivers who would have otherwise been involved in an accident.

What it means for all drivers

The availability of this technology for older cars is a huge plus. Even if it's not mandatory, there are many motorists who will be very interested in using it. 

There is also the potential for this technology to make the roads safer for brand-new drivers and senior drivers. It’s also something that governments make take an interest in as a way to make our roads safer and decrease the number of accidents. While it’s unlikely this technology will be made mandatory in existing cars any time soon, the potential for a public partnership or government rebate – similar to what’s been offered with solar panels and hot water systems in years prior – is possible.

New tech and old cars

Retrofitting collision warning systems on old vehicles is actually quite simple. Anyone who has had a dashcam, reverse camera, or similar device fitted to their vehicle after purchase will find it’s a similar process. 

Though systems vary from one CWS provider to another, they will commonly make use of a camera and an audio warning system (including a visual system where possible) to warn the driver when a hazard is perceived within the camera’s field of range. The camera will then trigger warnings to the driver, potentially producing a faster driver response time.

A major difference between CWS in newer cars and CWS retrofitted to older cars is in braking. A new collision warning system will anticipate danger and automatically apply the brakes. A retrofitted collision warning system will sound a warning to the driver, but won’t automatically apply the brakes.

There’s no question this technology will make older cars safer, but it perhaps can't be expected to have the same success rate at preventing accidents as it does in new cars. 

Safety in numbers?

Many drivers will want collision warning systems in their vehicles, but it must be recognised that the greater availability of this technology could give rise to some new challenges. For example, recent years have seen criticism surrounding the lack of uniform standards in the industry when it comes to CWS software

If everyone drove the same model of car, this wouldn't be a problem. But with such a wide variety of cars available, there are bound to be many different versions of collision warning systems, and the exact way in which they operate could vary considerably. Given that there are 19.5 registered vehicles in Australia, there is a lot of diversity on our roads. 

Reducing versus eliminating risk

This push for uniform standards across collision warning systems is unlikely to become a major concern overnight. But it is an emerging issue, like many others, that has arisen as a result of new technology. 

Ultimately, CWS technology will have to meet certain standards before it can be sold. In and of themselves, none of these systems should pose a safety issue even if they vary slightly in how they operate, but since most households own multiple cars and the popularity of car sharing is also growing, these differences could pose an issue if a driver regularly uses multiple vehicles. 

The risk may be slight, but so is the overall risk of getting in a car crash. But when one is happening, those little differences could factor in. The innovation of CWS software is much-needed, but just like other technology arriving on our roads, it may still have some kinks to iron out before mass adoption can safely occur.

It can be expected that collision warning systems will become more popular in older cars going forward. As they do, it will be important for all Aussie drivers to see how their installation in older cars plays out, especially given that even technology that has been around for many years now can still misfire occasionally.

CWS can’t prevent all crashes, but even decreasing the risk of one occurring owing to driver error would be a positive. It seems certain that in the years ahead, CWS will make driving and life on our roads safer – and that’s a net gain however you look at it. 

Would you like to install a collision warning system in your car soon? Let us know in the comments below:

Image: Pixabay