Driver-assist technologies to boost safety

Night vision systems
Night vision systems © l i g h t p o e t/

Nighttime is statistically one of the most dangerous times to drive. According to government statistics, 49 percent of fatal crashes happen at night even though much more driving is actually done during the day. Overall, you're 1.6 times more likely to get into a crash at night, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

High-end carmakers such as Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW now offer driver-assist technologies that can give drivers an edge to combat the visibility problems that make driving at night more dangerous.

Most of them involve a cluster of infrared sensors and cameras on the car's front end that project an enhanced view of the road in front of the vehicle, which together with shape-recognition software can help pick out pedestrians and other road obstacles and highlight them on a small screen.

At this point, night vision systems are still expensive options on extremely expensive cars. But the cost may be worth it if it can prevent the cost and potential injury of a late-night accident, Carlson says.

"It is an application that, even though it is expensive and has maybe limited utility timewise, there is still a significant kind of safety gain that could be there," he says.


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