Road Safety Information

Vehicle Safety Features and Autonomous Vehicles

Last Updated on October 12, 2021

Many new vehicles sold today in Canada are equipped with a wide array of advanced safety systems intended to prevent collisions entirely or to reduce the seriousness of their consequences. Since the 1990s, anti-lock braking systems (ABS) have been mandatory on all new vehicles. Starting in 2012, electronic stability control (ESC) became mandatory.

ABS prevents drivers from locking their brakes, which can lead to skidding and loss of control. ESC helps to correct sideways skids. The combined effect of ABS and ESC is to reduce the risk of drivers losing control of their vehicles on slippery roads.

Newer vehicles are often equipped with adaptive cruise control that automatically slows down the vehicle to maintain a constant safe following distance when approaching another vehicle from behind. In addition, a number of vehicles have automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems that reduce the risk of a forward collision. These safety systems calculate the risk of hitting another vehicle or object ahead and warn drivers or automatically apply the brakes to avoid a collision or reduce the impact if the driver does not slow down. A lane-departure technology warns drivers who have not signalled a lane change that their vehicles are exiting the driving lane. There is also a blind spot information technology that warns drivers when a vehicle is in their blind spot. Early studies have shown positive safety benefits for these technologies: https://trid.trb.org/view.aspx?id=927086

Considerable research on connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) has been underway globally for the past several years. Information on CAVs in Canada can be found in the following documents:

Vehicle Safety Features and Autonomous Vehicles FAQs:

What technologies are on modern vehicles to reduce the likelihood of collisions or reduce the impact?
Since the 1990s, anti-lock braking systems (ABS) have been mandatory on all new vehicles and starting in 2012, electronic stability control (ESC) became mandatory. ABS prevents drivers from locking their brakes, which can lead to skidding and loss of control. ESC helps to correct sideways skids. The combined effect of ABS and ESC is to reduce the risk of drivers losing control of their vehicles on slippery roads. Newer vehicles are often equipped with adaptive cruise control that automatically slows down the vehicle to maintain a constant safe following distance when approaching another vehicle from behind. In addition, a number of vehicles have automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems that reduce the risk of a forward collision. These safety systems calculate the risk of hitting another vehicle or object ahead and warn drivers or automatically apply the brakes to reduce the impact or avoid a collision if the driver does not slow down. A lane-departure technology warns drivers who have not signalled a lane change that their vehicles are exiting the driving lane. There is also a blind spot information technology that warns drivers when a vehicle is in their blind spot. Early studies have shown positive safety benefits for these technologies.
What are Connected and Automated Vehicles?
Connected and Automated Vehicles have new technologies which when fully developed will drive themselves, although the driver has to remain alert in order to take over control of the vehicle if necessary. These technologies have sensors which can detect vehicles and other road users that are in the path of the vehicle and make the vehicle brake or otherwise avoid a collision. Automated vehicles can detect and comply with the posted speed limit on a roadway.
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