DETROIT -- Driver distraction and drowsiness caused nearly 35 percent of the one-car accidents in Germany in 2001.
Engineers at Volvo Car Corp. in Sweden think an active safety system that reads the road and keeps the car in the center of the lane could cut the number of similar accidents dramatically in Germany and elsewhere.
In a technical paper presented Monday, March 3, Volvo chassis engineer Jochen Pohl explained how Volvo's Lane Departure Warning System could prevent drivers from veering off the road. Cameras in the front of the car read the traffic marking in the center of the lane and on the side.
If the front wheels veer too close to the lane lines, a computer activates a small motor connected to the steering system. The computer steers the car back into the center of the lane.
Volvo has built a test car to demonstrate the concept. But Pohl said the system is not near production. Among the obstacles to be overcome:
"The problem is I don't think it is an issue of technology," Pohl said. "It's an issue of making it work with the driver. When you want to avoid a crash, you definitely don't want to have this system active."