Ford’s Lane Technology Attempts to Alert Sleepy Drivers

Seatbelts. Airbags. Anti-lock brakes. Back-up cameras. Car makers are continuously adding innovations to make driving safer. But how much safer would you feel on Dallas roadways if your car did the driving for you?

That's the partial promise of Ford's new 'lane-keeping technology,' which is being made an option on 2013 Fusion and Explorer models. If it works, it could prevent car accidents.

This lane technology uses a camera attached to the driver's rear view mirror. Drivers will have the option of switching the technology on or leaving it turned off. When in use and the vehicle is going over 40 mph, the system is supposed to detect lane markings on the road. It uses those markings to determine whether the vehicle is drifting too close to one side or the other. If the turn signal is not in use, Ford's system will determine the change of direction is unintentional and will cause the steering wheel to vibrate to get the driver's attention.

At that point, if the driver fails to stop drifting, the technology utilizes the steering mechanism to shift the car back.

Many agree that this could be life-saving technology. But the mounted camera cannot always detect all lane markings (like on tight curves or in heavy rain). When the camera can't see the markings, it will not engage the lane-keeping system.

Not everyone is ready to back Ford's innovation. In fact, one National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official told the New York Times that the agency believes 'additional evaluation and research about lane-keeping systems is needed before we can decide whether we should recommend it to the public.'

Ford is not the only car manufacturer with lane-keeping technology. Mercedes, Toyota and Lexus also offer their own versions. The Mercedes system is always on, but, like Ford's system, the Toyota and Lexus versions must be activated by the driver.

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