Of recent, our roads have been invaded by these huge cars that come in all makes. These vehicles are regarded as status symbols for many. This category of vehicles offer a wide range of add-ons e.g. Off-road features, they come with a number of safety features like airbags, and wide range of passive safety features etc.
But how about avoiding an accident in the first place? That’s where the science of active safety comes into play. A vast array of technological advances in the past decade has done wonders to increase active safety.
Active Safety’s systems - Before we get into the nitty-gritty of why these technologies make SUVs safer, a brief review on what all those abbreviations stand for is in order.
Antilock brakes (ABS) have been around for over 20 years and work by rapidly pulsing the brakes when lockup is detected, such as when braking hard in the rain. This action allows the driver to retain steering control, so the chances of avoiding an accident are increased greatly.
Another couple of advances in braking are Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), which automatically applies more braking power to the wheels with the best grip, and BrakeAssist (BA), which automatically applies full braking power when a panic stop is sensed via rapid pedal movement, such as when the driver stabs the brakes.
Traction control prevents wheels from spinning in slippery conditions by automatically cutting engine power, lightly applying the brakes or both.
A more recent techno triumph aimed at keeping vehicles on the intended path and away from electric and telephone poles, ditches and other dangers is the motorist’s stability control. By considering things such as steering wheel angle and yaw rate (the rotation of a body about a vertical axis, such as when a car starts to “fishtail”), then modulating the throttle and/or selectively braking one or more wheels, stability control systems keep the car going where the driver wants. Manufacturers have different names for their stability control systems, such as ESP, VDC, StabiliTrak, and so on.
Stability Control, Version 2.0
At the Toyota event, held at Toyota’s 12,000-acre Arizona Proving Grounds, the engineers unveiled Toyota’s latest version of active safety technology. Called VDIM (for Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management), Toyota’s new system optimizes vehicle control by adding new features — electronically controlled brakes (ECB) and electronic power steering (EPS) and having them work in concert with the stability control (VSC), ABS, EBD and BA systems.
Faster processing speed also promises more transparent operation of the system. By having so many watchdogs looking out for trouble (potential skid situations and the like), VDIM is able to use one or all of these individual components to correct things before the driver even sense any trouble.
Next time you go out to buy a vehicle, be it new or used, look out for the safety devices onboard that vehicle; your life or that of the vehicle could greatly depend on such devices. It is worth spending some more extra francs on a safety feature than not having one at all!