With technology in today’s street cars expanding at an ever more rapid clip, it’s no wonder that the supply chain chip shortage has slowed production and availability of new cars at your local dealership. However, once you get behind the wheel of a new car, you’ll be seeing, hearing and feeling multiple bits of sensory feedback based on the sensors, lights, speakers and electronic bits throughout.

Today we’ll take a look at Lane Centering, Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Intervention (LDI) systems. Highway traffic safety studies have shown that when an unintended departure from a driver’s lane occurs, a significant percentage of traffic accidents follow. At first, there were LDW systems that utilized a forward-facing camera that was looking for clearly defined lane lines (via contrast with the rest of the road) and if the software associated with that camera found that you had departed your lane (without signaling) then it would typically sound a beeping tone to alarm you of your failure to keep your car in its lane. Great idea – right? It was until the reality of everyday driving sometimes has you getting out of your lane, whether it’s a passing maneuver or avoidance of debris in the road. Sometimes there could be a black tar line that the camera would mistake as a lane line and the beeping would go on constantly even though you stayed in your lane. It’s the beeping that typically gets people annoyed to the point where they want to turn off these driver aids.

From there, LDI was brought into play via the vehicle’s ABS system. This allowed the vehicle to apply slight braking pressure on the opposite side of the car from where the vehicle was veering out of its lane. This wouldn’t necessarily prevent the car from departing its lane in all circumstances, but it still would work under certain conditions to help prevent a big “off” into the weeds. The driver, through steering, could still overpower this system.

With the advent of electric power steering systems, the cars of today can actually see (through that forward-facing camera) and steer (electronically) and help keep you centered in your lane and therefore hopefully not even have to use the LDW or LDI in the first place. If for some reason the vehicle can’t stay centered in its lane and it does stray adrift, the vehicle can not only beep but also give the driver some sort of haptic feedback like vibrating the steering wheel or the seat cushion (depending on the manufacturer). Of course with all of these systems you’ll also typically get an audible alarm (beeping) and also a visual cue (lights on the dash and/or somewhere else). 

The bottom line is that an undistracted driver is the best driver behind the wheel. 

NOTE: Different manufacturers have similar technologies and will use different feature names to describe their individual systems. 

By Larry Mason

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