Vehicle Safety Systems

To help you drive safely, a growing number of cars are fitted with safety systems such as:

Fatigue reminder

This monitors how many hours you've been driving and encourages rest breaks (trip timer).

Attention Assist (fatigue detection)

Attention Assist is a drowsiness detection system. It warns drivers to prevent them from falling asleep while driving. It prompts them to take a break before it's too late.

Speed alert systems (ISA)

This system determines the current speed limit and alerts the driver if the limit is being exceeded (passive ISA) or limits the speed of the vehicle (active ISA).

Excessive speed is a factor in the cause and severity of many road crashes. Speed restrictions promote safe use of the road network by keeping traffic speeds below the appropriate for a given traffic environment. This protects vehicle occupants and other road users. Greater adherence to speed limits would avert many crashes and reduce the severity of those that occur.

Excessive speeding is sometimes unintentional. Drivers who are tired or otherwise distracted may allow their speeds to drift above the maximum allowed for that road. Others may inadvertently miss a traffic sign alerting them to a change in the speed limit, such as when entering a built-up area. Speed alert or Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) systems help drivers to keep their speeds within the recommended limits.

Some systems display the current limit so that the driver is always aware of the maximum speed allowed on that road. The speed limit may, for example, be determined by software that analyses images from a camera and recognises traffic signs. Alternatively, satellite navigation is becoming increasingly accurate and could be used to provide information to the driver. But this relies on the most up to date digital maps being available at all times. Systems may or may not issue a warning to the driver when the speed limit is exceeded and current systems are voluntary: they can be switched off and they rely on the driver responding appropriately to the warning.

Safety belt interlock/reminder

A system that requires you to put your safety belt on before you can drive your vehicle (interlock). It can also provide an alert to the driver that seated passengers do not have their safety belts on.

Smart key

The vehicle will not operate without an appropriate electronic key. This might have speed or time-of-day restrictions.

Traffic sign recognition

A system that recognises traffic signs to assist the driver.

Following distance warning

A system that detects the distance to the preceding vehicle and alerts the driver if the gap is less than recommended for the current speed.

Alcohol/drug ignition interlock

This requires the driver to perform and pass a breath alcohol test before the vehicle can be driven.

Speed alarm (manual)

A system that alerts the driver when the vehicle speed exceeds a pre-set limit.

Top speed limiter

This prevents the vehicle from travelling above a set speed for prolonged periods.

Workload manager

A system that filters and prioritises information made available to the driver. It postpones or cancels certain distractions, such as non-urgent vehicle warnings or integrated mobile telephone calls.