Lane Departure Warnings
Have you ever looked away from the road to your radio, only to be blasted of another driver's horn as you drifted? It happens to many drivers. Fatigue, medications, and distractions can make even the best drivers do dangerous things. Don't you wish there was a way to be alerted when this happens―horn blasts aside?
There is. It's called lane departure warning (LDW) technology.
After first making an appearance on European commerical trucks, American drivers saw LDW technology in 2004. Iteris licensed it to Valeo Management Services, and Nissan Motors unveiled its 2005 Infiniti FX and 2006 Infiniti M45―the first two models to come with LDW―at the April 2004 New York Auto show.
LDW uses tiny cameras, mounted on rearview mirrors, to watch the lane markings. This information is fed to an onboard computer, which then warns the driver with a combination of lights, steering wheel vibration, and perhaps an alarm that the car is drifting out of the lane. It's so sophisticated that it works under any weather conditions ― that's why it's taken so long to come to market.
If the driver happens to forget to use a turn signal, the LDW still goes off. Don't use this an excuse to leave your turn signals on forever―systems come with an off/on switch.
It's by no means foolproof. Muddy roads or freshly repaved streets with no lines stump the system.
More cars come out with LDW every year. Lexus, BMW, Nissan Infiniti, Honda, Mercedes Benz, KIA and GM (Cadillac and Buick) all currently offer LDW in various models.
LDW may appear under a slightly different name, like Nissan Infiniti's "Lane Departure Prevention," or Lexus's "Lane-Keeping Assist."
Each may work a bit differently. Some only have warnings, and some actually allow the car to brake and move the car back into the lane for you if you ignore the system.
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