Saturday, April 18, 2009

good motoring
Life-saving devices
H. Kishie Singh

This device detects and displays objects while you reverse your car
This device detects and displays objects while you reverse your car

THERE was a horrifying news item the other day. A man, while reversing his car, ran over his son and killed him. Car design is such these days that the boot lid is very high. It provides a lot of space but restricts rear vision. To further make matters worse, drivers do not make use of rear view mirrors. It is common to see cars being driven around with rear mirrors closed. Outside rear view mirrors (ORVMs) are an asset to safe driving.

In addition to ORVMs, there is an after-sales accessory that can be of tremendous help to drivers. These are reverse parking sensors. Some of the expensive cars have them as standard fitments but there are numerous models to choose from as after-sales fitments. The least expensive model gives out a series of beeps as you reverse, and warns you of an object behind that you may not have seen. The beep interval gets shorter as the car closes in on the object. A long uninterrupted beep means stop. You are about to hit something.

Another model has a voice command: ‘You have two metres to go. You have one metre to go.’ These are invaluable aids in reversing. They cost around Rs 2,000 each. The more expensive models which cost around Rs 7,000 each provide an infra red camera fitted at the rear. The LCD can be fitted on the sun visor, on the dashboard or on the central console, or the rear view mirror.

The sensors at the rear can be two, four or six. They can be stuck on or mounted on the rear number plate by drilling holes in the bumper. A great safety device. Car owners spend up to Rs 1 lakh on gadgets and gizmos like music systems, DVD players and the like. How about a life-saving device? It could be your own life. Give it a thought. Another fitment in your car should be a vehicle black box (VBB). Just like the black box of an aircraft, it records every movement of the car. It prevents breaking into the car. The car can be immobilised via SMS from your cell phone.

In Chandigarh three vehicles are stolen everyday. Most are not recovered. Micro Technologies are offering the micro VBB. A number of sensors are installed in the car, and the vehicle owner can command all via SMS. Locking and unlocking doors is possible. You can track your car when it is on the move. You will know where your driver or even your wife is at any time. This real time tracking will locate your car in case it has been stolen.

And again, via SMS, you can immobilise your car. Another very helpful function is the replay and analysis of trip logs. This means a record of your hours on the move, hours stationary and the top speed you hit that day. At the moment the micro VBB is an accessory, but as I see it, it could be a mandatory fitment in times to come. The insurance companies should lobby for it, as should the police. Car thefts could be a thing of the past. Insurance companies won’t have to pay out huge sums of money in compensation.

Even today if you have an anti-theft device on your car, insurance companies give you a 2 per cent rebate. With a VBB, this rebate could be higher. It will be a very useful tool for the police. Locating a stolen car would be easy. The top speed would be on record. No use denying it. No use going to the court to argue with the Judge and the police. In the larger interest of safe driving and safety of your car, the VBB could be a very valuable fitment.

Happy motoring.