Keeping Straight and Safe on the Road

Modern cars are loaded with complex technology to help keep drivers safe on the road. Every new vehicle that gets released will likely be equipped with increasingly better technology than previous models. However, it can be difficult keeping up with all the new technologies.

Automatic lane monitoring and assistance systems help drivers become more aware of their surroundings and the position of their vehicle. The most common lane monitoring systems are Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and, more recently, Lane Centering Assistance (LCA).

These systems help keep a vehicle straight while on the road and they issue warnings if they veer off centre. While this may seem like an unnecessary addition to your car, it can be help prevent collisions caused by driver distraction. A slight turn of the steering wheel, for example, can put the driver and other vehicles on the road in danger.

Here’s a guide on automatic lane monitoring and assistance systems to help you understand more about these features and how they keep us safe on the road.

How do they work?

Lane-keeping and lane departure systems work by using forward-facing cameras to monitor the lane lines around a vehicle. They provide a visual, audible and/or tactile warning – such as seat or steering wheel vibrations – to warn the driver if the vehicle approaches or crosses lane markings.

If the vehicle has LKA, the automatic steering or braking will try to correct the vehicle if it starts to veer from the lane. Some systems allow the driver to set the strength level of the assistance required. The system doesn’t activate when the driver uses their turn signal.

Lane-centring assistance is currently the highest level of lane monitoring technology available. It proactively keeps vehicles centred within the lane it’s driving on. Using automatic steering functionality, this feature constantly makes adjustments to the steering based on road marking information fed through from the vehicle’s front-mounted camera.

This feature is sophisticated enough to even allow some vehicles to offer a hands-free driving experience. This means drivers can take their hands off the steering wheel but only on certain approved roads in some overseas countries. The driver still needs to pay attention to the road and be ready to take full control at any time.

LCA relies on painted lane markings to operate, including markings between lanes and along the edges of the road. Some versions of this feature may also help prevent a driver from accidentally leaving the road.

If the road is covered in snow, fog or debris, LCA may not be able to detect the lane markings on the road. Therefore, it’s important that the driver takes extra precautions and doesn’t simply rely on the LCA to drive safely.

While these systems are in place to help the driver be more wary of their surroundings and what is happening on the road, it doesn’t replace driver responsibility. The driver must remain in control of their vehicle at all times.

LKA, LDE and LTA offer varying degrees of driver assistance and lane monitoring to help prevent driver error that could lead to an accident. While some are more intrusive than others, these features can be turned on or off, or adjusted, depending on the driver’s preference.

Although there are many iterations of each system from automaker to automaker, each one is designed to offer peace of mind and greater safety while driving.