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Lane-keeping technology gives drivers a nudge

Surely you've been in a situation where the driver in front of you is driving erratically. They swerve in and out of their lane, and it's hard to tell if they're drunk, not paying attention or falling asleep.

Some new technology is aiming to give sleepy drivers, or perhaps those not paying enough attention, a little help. As Ford calls it, "lane-keeping technology" aims to keep drivers in the center of the lane in order to prevent car accidents.

Other companies, such as Toyota, have introduced similar systems under different names, such as "lane keep assist." Ford's new system hasn't gotten a recommendation from the Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration yet, but Ford is offering it as an option for its Explorer and Fusion 2013 models.

This is how it works: a camera is mounted to a vehicle's rear-view mirror. The equipment is supposed to track the road's lane markings. So, if a driver swerves too far to the left or right, the system can give the driver a warning in the form of a vibration in the steering wheel.

If the driver ignores it, the vehicle will automatically correct to the center of the lane. Of course, the technology will only kick in if a vehicle is traveling at a minimum of 40 mph and the system is switched on.

Some have pointed out some possible flaws, including when the camera doesn't work properly due to low sun angles and heavy precipitation. Still, it is hoped such technology will eventually keep motorists safe from swerving drivers.

Source: New York Times, "Trying to nudge drowsy drivers," Randall Stross, Jan. 21, 2012

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