Cars That Avoid Collisions… From the Front, at Least

2013 Subaru Legacy, front side

“My car won’t let me rear-end anyone,” she said.

It’s true. The 2013 Subaru Legacy equipped with EyeSight automatically applies the brakes and stops the car when it detects another automobile in its path.

The first time I drove my girlfriend’s car, it was quite a disconcerting feeling to keep my foot off the brake when approaching a line of cars at a stop light. Just as advertised, though, the car came to a gentle stop without any input from me at all.

Now I hardly notice when we have adaptive cruise control on and the car slows itself on the highway when heavy traffic is ahead. We both trust the car to slow down, and stop, when needed. Truth be told, and I won’t mention any names here, but someone I know even drove with her feet out the window while navigating heavy traffic caused by a car accident.

You can imagine the stares.

I fully understand that features like EyeSight are meant to act as a backup in case of emergencies, but I now know how easy it is to become reliant on such technology.

This makes me wonder if a false sense of security is being fostered and disaster lies ahead as more people stop thinking while they drive. One computer glitch and suddenly we have cars going 70 miles per hour plowing into stopped traffic ahead.

That’s scary.

A more realistic possibility is a car like the Legacy stopping too fast, or for no reason at all, then getting rear-ended by the vehicle behind it.

I’m all for technology that can monitor traffic and prevent accidents, but a part of me wonders if it’s already gone too far. Yesterday, AOL Autos posted an article listing the top 7 cars that help drivers avoid accidents. That list was dominated by Cadillac, Volvo and Subaru, with other automakers hopping on board. That means more people will drive with their feet off the brakes, which will mean one of two things: There will be either more accidents or fewer accidents.

From my experience with EyeSight, my bets are on fewer.

Will your next car feature some kind of accident avoidance system?


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  1. My Mazda 3 has some useful safety stuff, but no “smart braking” or adaptive cruise control (too expensive trim level). Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert (for backing out of parking spots) are incredibly useful. To be honest, I’m not sure I could go back to driving without them. Maybe my next car will have something more sophisticated, but I’m not planning on that for a long time

  2. These active braking systems usually work in conjunction with Adaptive Cruise Control, where a radar system gauges accurate distance to cars ahead as well as sensing their relative speed. Active braking can be a big help when you are following a bit too close or misjudge traffic conditions. The only problem is one that has been noted with antilock braking systems. Because drivers aren’t trained in how to use the feature properly, they may develop dangerous habits like following too closely or letting the car brake for them. Such driver may not realize that active braking systems can’t sense road and weather conditions and not be able to stop the car in time. As James mentions, there’s no substitute for an attentive driver.

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