Lane-Splitting Safety Tech Patent Aims to Reduce Accidents

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Ford’s new safety patent could finally help legitimize lane-splitting using existing active-safety technology.

Currently, lane-splitting is only technically legal in California. And in 12 other states, it’s merely “not specifically prohibited,” which is somewhat of a gray area. But since lane-splitting can help reduce traffic congestion and encourage people to take more efficient transportation, what’s the holdup? Well, the act of lane-splitting is kind of dangerous. But an ingenious new Ford patent aims to change that.

The automaker’s recent patent filing uses a series of rear-facing cameras to detect the presence of a lane-splitting motorcyclist. It’s then able issue a warning to the driver, much like how blind-spot detection and other current active-safety systems operate. If the system detects that a crash is imminent, it’s also able to apply automatic braking or steering to keep that from happening.

It’s a natural evolution from the of active-safety tech already present in many cars. But it’s also an important step in legitimizing lane-splitting, saving lives, and preventing accidents. As most competent riders know, the danger of lane-splitting comes from inattentive drivers who change lanes without checking their mirrors first. We’ve seen it time and time again.

This safety tech would go a long way in helping prevent that from happening. And since it uses mostly existing technology, it would be relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. Even entry-level cars are coming equipped with active-safety technology these days, so adding in one more feature seems very feasible.

Plus, self-driving cars have demonstrated issues detecting smaller objects, like bikes and motorcycles recently. If Ford is able to solve that problem with this new tech, it would go a long way in legitimizing autonomous technology. And if it saves lives and reduces accidents, we all benefit from that.

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Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts.

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