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Everything About A Collision Warning System | Is It A Must?

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Driving can be highly challenging in traffic-clogged conditions, especially if you have to drive for extended periods. Will you have enough time to react if a car suddenly comes in front of you or an object near your vehicle? Probably not! But a collision warning system can give you enough time to make the right decision and prevent a car accident.Collision warning system

This article will provide more information about how the collision warning system works and its importance. By the end of the article, you will have an answer on whether to make this investment for your safety.

What Is A Collision Warning System?

A collision warning system is an advanced driving assistance system that warns the driver of an impending collision. It detects the slow-moving or stopped vehicles around the host vehicle and warns the driver of the danger. It makes use of radar, laser or camera technology to scan the road area around the car. This system uses lights, vibrations, or beep sounds to alert the driver. This combination allows the driver to focus on the forthcoming danger beforehand and decide likewise.

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In basic systems, the collision warning system monitors the vehicle’s speed, the front vehicle’s speed, and the distance between the two vehicles. The system gives visual and audio warnings allowing the driver to get alerted before the car gets too close.

Some advanced systems tighten the seat belt or apply brakes to halt the vehicle quickly. Many vehicles with collision warning systems use emergency brakes as a safety measure. It can be possible that these automatic brakes may not prevent the crash, but they can lessen the severity.

Once the system detects the impending collision and warns the driver, the system also takes automatic action. It applies brakes at low vehicle speed, i.e., below 50 km/h. But when the vehicle is at a higher speed, it uses steering. The usual characteristic of the collision warning system is as follows:

  • Autonomous: The system does not wait for the driver’s instruction to avoid or mitigate the accident.
  • Emergency: The system only intervenes when necessary or a critical situation arises.
  • Braking: The system applies brakes to avoid an accident.

What Are The Different Types Of Collision Warning Systems?

Modern vehicles can use different types of collision warning systems to prevent accidents. Below are some of the systems that work to improve the safety of the driver and the vehicle.

  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)

This type of system uses radar, laser, or a combination of both in the vehicle. It measures the distance between the two cars and gives input to the system’s vehicle on whether to give a warning or not. The ACC-equipped vehicle maintains the expected distance to prevent a collision, whether the speed is faster or slower.

  • Forward Collision Warning System

This system works similarly to adaptive cruise control. The only difference is that it makes use of visual and audio warning systems. It works by determining the speed of the vehicles near the host vehicle. Then, the collision warning system triggers and shows critical signs to alert the driver. This warning indicates an imminent collision.

  • Lane Departure Warning System

This type of system helps the driver in changing lanes. The system activates with the button on the vehicle showing a symbol of the car veering off the road. Whenever the driver uses the vehicle’s indicators to signal a lane change, this system gets activated. A slight shift in the lane can send a warning to the drivers to be cautious.

  • Collision Mitigation By Braking

This system works by detecting any obstacle around the vehicle that can potentially result in a road accident. Then, the system alerts the driver of the danger and applies the brakes to prevent any road accident.

How Does The Collision Warning System Work?

This Collision warning system helps prevent road accidents due to blind spots in the vehicle or the driver’s carelessness. The system utilizes and operates in a similar pattern to that of adaptive cruise control. Primarily, it uses cameras and sensors to detect objects around the vehicle. For this detection, there are various types of systems available.

Some systems use an exposed radar in the front bumper, while others use radar that hides behind the front bumper. Many vehicles utilize forward-facing cameras closer to the rear mirror to spot any car in a danger zone. Dual cameras are mainly used to have better detection of blind spots.

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Radar sensors and Camera-based systems

Radar sensors operate by sending radio waves that reflect off the object. The time the radio waves take to return to the system indicates:

  • Distance of the object from the vehicle
  • Size of the object
  • The direction of the object where it is travelling

The combination of radar sensors and forward-facing cameras works in a balance to provide safety to the vehicle. When the radar sensor detects an object, it sends signals to the camera for affirmation of the object. If the camera also gives positive signals, the signals return to the system to forewarn the driver and apply brakes.

Normally, the radar sensors have a built-in module like forward-facing cameras. Once the distance of the objects is detected, the data go to other modules, such as the powertrain control module or ABS module, to slow the vehicle. Information like wheel speed, engine torque, and steering angle contributes to its efficiency. A single error in any part can result in a complete system failure.

Ensuring Proper Functioning Of The Collision Warning System

The collision warning system is sensitive and can easily get damaged, even from a minor crash. To avoid malfunctioning the system, the repairers need to keep the sensors’ vision clear to remain functioning. For example, if the vehicle has a collision warning system, you can not use the repair material usually used to repair a gouge in the bumper cover. The reason for this is it can block the vision of the sensor, preventing the system from working properly.

Some OEMs have warnings to keep a certain distance between the system’s cameras when making repairs.

For camera-based systems, the front of the vehicle should give a clear vision to the system. If your windshield gets damaged, you need to repair it to ensure clear vision for the camera. It is also necessary to ensure there are no stickers or window tints that could block the camera’s vision.

For radar-based systems, vision is also essential. Radars are usually mounted on the front bumper, so they can be blinded by the refinishing or other repair material. It will give a false reading to the system, resulting in system inefficiency. So, it is vital to check the radar sensors frequently so you can ensure their operation before any crash.

Other things can also naturally restrict the collision warning system from working properly. Precipitation like rain, snow, and ice can block the camera’s view. Direct sunlight can also be the reason for undetected objects around the vehicle. Dust, mud, and dead bugs can also preclude the proper working of the system. So, it is better to learn about the OEM repair information and checks the limitations to avoid any system failure.

Typical Calibration Requirement

After a crash, the collision warning system must get calibration. It includes checking the camera performance and diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). Since the radar sensors are present in the front or back of the bumper, they can easily get damaged. So, their data collection parts, such as adaptive cruise control, collision braking, and collision warning, need to get checked. For these reasons, calibration is necessary.

The process of calibration can be static or dynamic. Static procedures require scan tools to initiate an aiming procedure. Targets such as metal and pyramid-shaped objects are set at specific locations. The radars are then tested. Any interference in the aiming procedure is strictly avoided to ensure proper functioning. Thus, this calibration process is executed in a large area.

Dynamic procedures work while driving the vehicle. The condition must be specified along with speed to ensure the calibration process. However, the weather conditions such as snow or rain should not be there that could interfere with the calibration process.

What Are The Features Of The Collision Warning System?

There are numerous features of collision warning systems that help in improving the safety of the vehicle. With improvements in technology, these features increase the passenger’s safety.

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Rear Cross-Traffic Alert

This type of collision warning system alerts you of the vehicle approaching from the side as you reverse. It consists of a visual cue and audible chirp in either the rear camera’s display or the outside mirror. Better technology systems can easily pick small objects such as pedestrians or bicycles. Ultimately, this system comes in handy when you have to reverse into a traffic lane, and the adjacent parked car obscures the view.

Forward Collision Warning And Autobrake

These are also known as pre-crash warning systems. This stand-alone or combined system–radar, laser, or camera– warns the driver of the impending danger. This warning can be auditory, visual, or physical cues. Most systems not only apply the brake to lower the impact. But they also prepare the driver for impact with the help of partial or full brake force. It gets activated at highway speeds.

Blind-Spot Monitoring And Assist

This type of collision warning system scans the area around your vehicle with the help of a camera or radar. It helps in looking out for lurking vehicles in blind spots. As soon as the system detects a vehicle, it will illuminate an icon present on the side mirror for the driver to see it. Some systems signal with a loud chirping sound to get the driver’s attention in case the visual warning is missed. More advanced systems keep the vehicle in the same lane by applying brakes.

Pedestrian Detection And Braking

Collision warning systems find it hard to detect small objects. It is why this type of system helps in detecting the person straying into the vehicle’s path. Some will automatically apply the brakes completely, while others will use partial brakes. Newer technology detects bicyclists, which is especially beneficial when you drive in crowded areas.

Adaptive Headlights

When the driver turns the steering wheel, these adaptive headlight system allows illumination of the road around the curves. It assists in improving the reaction time of the driver by about a third of a second. And it is enough to avoid crashes between vehicles.

Lane Departure Warning And Assist

This system uses cameras and other sensors to monitor the distance by identifying lane markers. If the driver strays over the lane, the system will give a warning sound along with a physical alert like the vibration of the seat or steering wheel. Others selectively apply brakes or guide the steering back to the right track.

Drowsiness Detection

It can be possible that the tiredness of the driver can sometimes be the reason for a crash. A drowsiness detection system can monitor erratic maneuvers that indicate the lack of attention from the driver. Some systems can look for driver’s eye movement with their in-car camera. The alert can include a dab on the brakes, a chime, an illuminated icon, or a tug at the seat belt.

Automatic Park Assist

This type of collision warning system identifies a perpendicular or parallel parking space for your car. Once detected, it will steer the car into space. The driver still has control over the brakes and the control system. The driver has to activate the system first and then drive in an open space to detect the parking spot for the car.

Rear Cameras And Parking Assist

This system helps prevent back-over accidents, such as hitting an object or a child from behind the vehicle. The parking assist sensor will notify you with a loud warning sound with quicker beeps as you get close to the obstacle. It is advantageous for large vehicles that have large blind zones around them. Overall, it is very helpful in tight parking spaces and in lining up a trailer.

Importance Of The Collision Warning System

A collision avoidance system holds huge importance when it comes to the safety of the driver. With the increase in traffic and lesser time span of attention of drivers on the road, vehicles have more chances of a road accident than ever before. But it is important to consider that these advanced driving assistance systems are not a replacement for active safety.

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Generally, there are two types of safety systems in a vehicle: passive and active safety. Passive safety means anything in the vehicle that does not work on sensors. A good example is seat belts, which are entirely based on manual operations. An active system is simply based on the sensors, especially the collision warning system. The signals gathered from the surrounding of the vehicle helps to alert the driver of any harmful situations. The system actively seeks out information concerning the objects around the vehicle and decides whether to alert the driver. With the use of radar technology, the readiness of the systems improves significantly.

The significance of this active safety on the vehicle is undeniable. The Insurance Institutes for Highway Safety considers the importance of this type of safety in reducing severe injuries. With time, they are becoming more common on newer vehicles. But if you have an older model, you can buy an aftermarket kit for your vehicle. Usually, these kits are easy to use by following the instructions in the user manual. Yet, it is advisable always to seek professional help. This way, they can properly install the system in your vehicle.

The use of both active and passive safety is always crucial in vehicles. It is substantial to realize that even with technology, the driver needs to take passive safety measures, like wearing seat belts. The driver should also use other safety options such as indicators, side mirrors, and rear mirrors while maintaining full attention on the road. As a result, you will be cautious while driving even if there is a technology malfunction due to the unfortunate environment around the sensors.


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In recent years, collision warning systems have become more popular due to passengers’ growing concerns on the road. Crash chances also increase as the number of vehicles on the road increases. As a result, these safety systems are necessary to maintain the safety of both drivers and passengers in the vehicle. Thus, it is ultimately better to invest in your safety than to lose it to worse accidents.

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