Ever wondered what all those fun, colourful lights on your dashboard mean? While we couldn’t explain all of them, here is our top 5 list of helpful driver aids. You know, the magic pixie stuff that makes your car behave when you may or may not have over-driven it.
We’ve also included descriptions of how this magic actually works so that you won’t get a fright when the brake pedal aggressively massages you during an emergency stop…
1) A.B.S. (Anti-lock Braking System)
We firmly believe A.B.S. is one of the most important driver aids which has helped to prevent many accidents. Often mistakenly thought to reduce braking distances (which it does, to some extent) its chief benefit is actually a degree of control under full braking. Where normal brakes lock up and prevent steering, the pulsating ABS system lends a little control to panicking drivers and their reflex actions.
2) E.S.P. (Electronic Stability Program)
A continuation of A.B.S., this system uses clever computers and sensors to detect what a driver’s intentions are and if the car is still obeying them. In plain English that means it can detect if a car is skidding or out of control and take corrective actions by braking one or more wheels. That does not mean it can save every mishap – E.S.P. only functions up to certain speeds and in some situations. If you’re too fast or reckless, it can’t help you!
3) E./T.C. (Electronic/ Traction Control)
Traction Control has many other names: T.C., E.S.C., A.S.R, etc. Think of it as a reverse A.B.S. system where sensors detect if the driven wheels are slipping (spinning faster than the given road speed) and use short brake bursts to regain grip. Not only can Traction Control save your tyres, it becomes especially useful in slippery conditions. Boland residents don’t have to trouble themselves with it but E.T.C. can be a huge help in icy conditions!
4) Parking Sensors
You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. We certainly believe in this saying because most of the press cars we drive have park beepers. If we suddenly drive a car that doesn’t have them, parking becomes a little trickier. We’ve also noted that most parking sensors can be overly sensitive but this is just a matter of getting used their response (i.e. in your own car).
5) Blind-Spot Assist
At first we thought this was just another stupid nanny device which beeps at things we already spotted. Until that one night we changed lanes and almost grazed a big white BMW. Thank you, Blind Spot Assist. The system has been constantly developed and one evolution assists you when pulling out of a tight parking bay – it warns of approaching vehicles or people. That’s incredibly helpful!
Which driver aids are more bothersome than helpful? We think these are just a nuisance:
- Gear Shift Indicators
- Voice Control
- High Beam Assist
- Infra-red Night Vision
- Automatic Parking Brake
- Radar-guided Cruise Control
We’d love to hear from you! Which driver aids do you love or hate?