I’ve had my share of accidents behind the wheel – more than my share, in fact.
Most have been quite small, just fender benders or the odd scrape against a low pole I didn’t see, but two have been severe enough to warrant the purchase of a new car.
While not all the collisions I’ve been in have been technically my fault, such as a case when someone shot out of side street in front of me, each one could have been avoided if I’d simply been paying better attention.
My two biggest problems while driving are a general lack of situational awareness and poor following distance.
Yet, I didn’t even realise how much of a problem these were until I got behind the wheel of a Subaru XV and started playing around with its EyeSight features.
What Subaru’s EyeSight is
The core of the EyeSight system is its set of dual colour cameras that are placed on either side the rear-view mirror where they scan the road for unanticipated dangers.
It acts like a second pair of eyes and can detect objects in front of you that you are likely to hit, and is able to warn you about the potential danger.
EyeSight can even apply full braking force in emergency situations, to prevent you from driving into something.
So, if the car in front of you hits the brakes and stops, but you don’t react, EyeSight will apply breaks to slow your car down or even stop it for you.
In conjunction with this, EyeSight’s Pre-collision Throttle Management can reduce the power from the engine to help prevent an impact with a stationary object.
A good example of this could be when you are taking a slipway and assume that the care ahead of you has moved off, even though it hasn’t, EyeSight will limit the car’s acceleration.
This works in reverse as well with 4 sensors in the rear bumper.
Automatic reverse braking, which is not part of EyeSight but supplements the system, can prevent you from reversing into poles that are hidden in your blind spot or into the garage door or gate that didn’t open properly.
While I was too nervous to properly test the collision avoidance features, since I didn’t want to add any more accidents to my tally, it did work well in the simulated setup that Subaru did for me when handing over the car.
Also, while driving in very slow traffic past a school, some children decided to cut through the traffic in front of me, and the Subaru slowed down almost to a stop before I even saw the children in my peripheral vision.
How EyeSight improves your driving to prevent collisions
While EyeSight doesn’t do the driving for you, it does help you to drive safer by adapting your following distance and ensuring that you stay within your lane.
These are the two features that really highlighted to me how much better I could be driving – and how much safer as well.
EyeSight’s Adaptive Cruise Control works just like regular cruise control in the sense that you can set a speed and your car will maintain that speed automatically.
However, unless you are on an incredibly quiet road, it is likely that you won’t be able to maintain your speed and will need to slow down for slower cars up ahead.
When this becomes necessary, EyeSight quite cleverly will adapt your following distance (which you can set to be shorter or longer) by slowing the car down.
Then, if the car ahead speeds up or moves away, the car will automatically accelerate to the cruising speed you set, or if the car ahead of you stops, your Subaru will slow down to a stop as well.
I always knew my following distance wasn’t long enough, but until I drove the Subaru, I didn’t realise how much further I really needed to be from the cars ahead to stop safely.
In fact, I’d even start to get the feeling that people behind me, who were maintaining following distances that I’d consider to be normal or at least better than mine, were driving too close up behind me.
Another feature that I found incredibly useful and enlightening was the Lane Keep Assist and Sway Warning.
Again, the car doesn’t do the driving for you, but it does monitor your position on the road and will alert you if you start to drift from your lane without indicating.
If it senses you swerving from side to side in the lane, which is a sign that you may be drowsy, it will also trigger EyeSight to sound a warning to get your attention back on the road.
I was shocked to see how often I would trigger the Lane Keep Assist warning as I was driving – it really highlighted to me that my situational awareness needs work.
As a result, since driving the Subaru XV, I’ve made a point of paying far more attention to both my following distance and position in the road.
What EyeSight can’t do
While EyeSight is an excellent safety feature, it does have a few limitations.
For one thing, while it goes a long way to preventing collisions, it’s obviously not going to prevent other cars from driving into you.
It also won’t pick up obstacles that are less than a metre in height, so won’t necessarily prevent you from driving into low obstructions.
Nevertheless, it will improve your driving and reduce the likelihood of accidents in many other ways, and it is exciting to think that is where the future of driving technology is headed.
Subaru is leading the way in Driver Assist Technology, having received the highest possible 2017 rating for front crash prevention by the IIHS.
For more information, visit the Subaru website.