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Automated Caution

The next generation of safety technology turns the cameras on you.

Automated Caution

Augmented reality is right around the corner.

(Photo: metamorworks / Getty images)

In 1980, there were more than 51,000 motor vehicle deaths on U.S. roads. In 2017, that number dropped to just over 37,000. Although the U.S. population has been growing steadily since 1975, the rate of crash deaths per 100,000 people in 2017 is about half of what it was four decades ago.

This significant drop is due in no small part to the countless safety features developed over the years.

Cars are constantly evolving in the name of passenger safety. What does that look like on current models? Here are a few of the latest technologies gaining traction.

Driver Monitoring

About 27% of drivers admit to having driven while so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open, according to a AAA survey.

Cameras are ubiquitous in our society, so it only makes sense that your car has them as well. A new safety technology uses cameras, infrared sensors and facial recognition software to monitor a driver’s eyes for signs of drowsy or distracted driving.

By tracking head and eye movements, body posture and steering behavior, the safety feature will determine if the driver is safe to drive. When the system detects unusual or dangerous behaviors, it will alert the driver with audio or visual signals.

Head-Up Display

With head-up displays, your windshield – not your dashboard – becomes the information screen. This allows drivers to keep their eyes forward, instead of down.

Some manufacturers project the images not on the windshield but on a small translucent window above the steering wheel. This design is also used by aftermarket products so drivers lacking a builtin head-up display can still use one. The info displayed varies. Speed and turn-by-turn navigation are the most common, but other info such as the fuel gauge, weather and even the song playing can be shown.

Augmented Realty

The next step in head-up display technology is augmented reality (AR). Instead of having info displayed on a flat screen, AR projects images on the actual road. If you need directions, for instance, arrows will appear on the road, guiding you to your destination.

“So long as symbology is kept very simple, an augmented reality head-up display is the best situational awareness tool we have to fight against driver inattention and distraction,” said Juliana Clegg, CEO of Falcon AR, a manufacturer of AR technology.

To get more information on the latest car technologies, visit AAA.com/Automotive.

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