Forward collision warning (FCW) systems in vehicles are an important part of occupant safety. They work by monitoring the road ahead and using a series of sensors they can detect oncoming objects. If the object is deemed to be in the path of the vehicle and an incident is imminent, the car will usually do one of two things depending on what systems are in place, and these are:
- Notify the drivers with an alarm.
- Apply the brakes (if the driver does not react in time) to avoid the accident.
In many modern cars, there are many safety systems in place and they will work together to protect the occupants and stop the car from being damaged.
How Exactly Do Forward Collision Systems Operate?
There are a couple of ways that these systems work, some use cameras and sophisticated software to identify and track objects. Others use radar sensors that work by sending signals out and recording what is ‘bounced’ back, similar to how bats can detect food in the night. A few cars use both systems working in conjunction to make up for any known or unknown blindspots.
The car uses these systems as it’s ‘eyes’ and by constantly reviewing the data and taking into account the car's speed and the trajectory it can determine if it will hit anything. Then it deploys warning systems, often as a light or an audible alarm, if it is coupled with an Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) it will assist the driver by activating the brakes.
It is dependent on your car manufacturer as to how much the AEB will stop the car, and how it actually alerts the driver to the approaching obstacle. If you are not sure about the system in your car you should contact your manufacturer and they will inform you of the specifications of your system.
How Effective Are Forward Collision Systems?
There have been many studies conducted in Australia about the effectiveness of these systems. In many cars FCW is not a standard feature but, as the technology becomes cheaper, it will start to be installed on most new cars.
Studies into FCW have concluded that there would be:
- A reduction of fatalities by 20-40%
- A reduction of all injuries by 30-50%
The systems are seen as so effective that many insurers are offering discounts of up to 20% on premiums.
Are There Any Issues With Forward Collision Systems?
There are a few FCW systems that are activated too early and inundate the driver with alerts. This can have the effect of the driver becoming annoyed with it and switching the system off.
Even if the system is not turned off, a driver can get used to the alerts and actively begin to ignore them. A driver should learn to work with the system and understand how it operates and that it exists as a precautionary measure.
Does the car you want to buy have FCW?
You can go to the manufacturer's website and search for the vehicle. However as some manufacturers don’t list the details of older models, it can be difficult to get that information.
Another way is to order a safety report through Carify, we have access to a large database of vehicles and their safety systems. The report will detail everything you need to know about the car, so you can make an informed decision.