Recent research by Ford has revealed the fears of drivers across Europe about driving on roads at night. Over half of the 5,000 drivers surveyed in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK revealed that they found driving at night stressful and one in five were afraid of hitting a pedestrian.
Ford has been conducting this research as part of their plans to introduce Pedestrian Detection technology, which they are claiming will work at night time.
According to Ford, this technology, which will be available in new models from 2018, debuting first on the 2018 Ford F-150 and the 2018 Ford Mustang.
Ford says that Pedestrian Detection can detect pedestrians at night and will automatically apply the brakes if the driver does not respond to initial warnings. It works by processing radar information from the bumper and a camera in the windshield, with a database of ‘shapes’ enabling the system to differentiate between people and objects.
The camera captures over 30 images per second, scanning for pedestrian-like objects. When it encounters one, the vehicle provides appropriate braking to help an otherwise unalert driver avoid a collision.
“We know some drivers find hitting the road at night a stressful experience. Especially driving in towns and cities, pedestrians – sometimes distracted by mobiles – can without warning step into the road, leaving even alert drivers very little time to avoid an accident.” said Gregor Allexi, Ford Europe Active Safety Engineer. “Day and night, Pedestrian Detection is designed to help identify people already in – or about to step into – the road ahead.”
As it may be a while before this technology becomes more widely available, and bearing in mind that 40% of collisions occur in the hours of darkness (according to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), we’ve pulled together some tips on how you can combat the darkness.
Your vehicle lights are there for both your safety, and the safety of other road users. It is illegal to drive at night without fully functioning front and rear lights, so it is important to check your lights on a regular basis.
Clean & Clear
Check that your vehicle lights are kept clean so that they are visible to other road users, particularly if you have been driving in a muddy environment. Having a clean and clear windscreen is also essential so that your vision is not impaired by streaks, so make sure your windscreen cleaning fluid is kept topped up.
When driving at night, visibility is affected as the distance a driver can see is shorter than in daylight hours. Take extra care when driving in the dark, reducing your speed when driving on back roads which are not well lit. This will allow more time for you to spot any potential hazards.
As we age our eyesight can deteriorate, and it can become especially difficult to see at night, so it is important to have annual eye sight tests. If you wear glasses, the National Safety Council recommends that the lenses are anti-reflective.
When driving at night extra attention needs to be paid to the road, so minimise the risk of distraction like talking to other passengers or listening to the radio.
Eddie Cunningham. (2017). Most of us are scared of night driving but new technology can help us ‘see’. Available: http://www.independent.ie/life/motoring/car-news/most-of-us-are-scared-of-night-driving-but-new-technology-can-help-us-see-35552075.html. Last accessed 21/04/2017.
National Safety Council. (2017). The Most Dangerous Time to Drive. Available: http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/news-and-resources-driving-at-night.aspx. Last accessed 21/04/2017.
Relaxnews . (2017). New Ford technology eliminates night driving fears. Available: http://www.ctvnews.ca/autos/new-ford-technology-eliminates-night-driving-fears-1.3333537. Last accessed 21/04/2017.
Repairer Driven News. (2017). Ford: New tech on 2018 F-150, Mustang to spot pedestrians at night. Available: http://www.repairerdrivennews.com/2017/03/21/ford-new-tech-on-2018-f-150-mustang-to-spot-pedestrians-at-night/. Last accessed 21/04/2017.
Rob Stumpf. (2017). Ford Introduces Pedestrian Detection Technology in 2018 Mustang. Available: http://www.thedrive.com/sheetmetal/8411/ford-introduces-pedestrian-detection-technology-in-2018-mustang . Last accessed 21/04/2017.