Cooley On Cars
Smarter Driver, Parking lot accidentsAccidents in parking lots happen all the time, and carmakers are devising in-car technologies to combat them and help drivers navigate safely.
-Embarrassing but true, some 20 percent of all car accidents take place in parking lots, according to our partners over at State Farm. Now, the majority of these are obviously not terribly serious, but if they involve a pedestrian, they certainly can be. Luckily, there's a lot of new car technology on the market-- much of it being built in by manufacturers-- that lets you avoid these low-speed accidents that are either very serious or at least very embarrassing. Rear cameras are the most obvious. And I especially like the new wide-angle mode some cameras have when you're in the parking lot, like we've seen recently on the Acura RLX. Some cameras have really good markings for distance and trajectory. Others don't tell you much at all other than showing you a picture of what's back there. So, look for the more informative kind if you're buying a new car. Some big BMWs and Bentleys are among the cars with front cameras, kind of wall-eyed apparatus, that looks 90 degrees sideways, great for nosing out of a garage, on to a sidewalk, or in the traffic. Around View cameras, which I first saw Infiniti popularize, wrap up a little of all the above in giving you a sort of bird's eye view of your car stitched together between cameras. Sometimes, the biggest challenge is just taking it all in. Now, a cousin of blind spot detection technology is cross-traffic alert. It's found on many Chrysler and Ford cars, uses radar sensors that look sideways to let you know if you're about to get T-boned while backing out of a spot. -So now, we just let the car do everything. I'm not touching the gas. -Land Rover has a new wrinkle. They're using sensors that look up and down the vehicle, and they call it Flank Guard-- lets you know when you're about to scrape the side of your expensive SUV while parking. And if you do happen to scrape someone's car in a parking lot, you can do the right thing, of course, and leave a note. But that's so old-fashioned. Instead, there is, of course, an app for that-- the Bump Network, allowing you to message anyone by their license plate if they're signed up-- of which I am not.