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Driving Safer, Easier With New Electronics for Cars

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New cars increasingly use connected technology, and incremental improvements in automotive electronics are making cars safer and smarter.
New cars increasingly use connected technology, and incremental improvements in automotive electronics are making cars safer and smarter.

Improvements in electronics for autos are making cars safer and smarter.

Some new car models are fashionable. Others can go a long way on only a little gas. But all are taking advantage of technology that is making driving safer and easier.

The new Ford Escape has technology that helps the car avoid crashes. A new cruise control system changes the car's speed to keep a safe distance from other cars on the road. It works by using sensors that measure the Escape's distance from other vehicles.

Drivers can connect to the Ford Escape's electronic system through the dashboard or with their smart phones. The phone can start and track their car from anywhere.

Mark Schirmer is a product representative at Ford.

'Where I'm from, in Michigan, if it's a cold morning, I can have it start up right before I'm scheduled to leave to go to the airport or go to work.

"You can find your car, or if one of your family members, a kid, borrowed the car, it will show you exactly where it is.'

Other companies are also hard at work developing technology to make driving safer. The Heedful Audio Alert System, or HAAS, warns drivers when emergency vehicles are near. CEO Cory Hohs said a near-crash with a Chicago fire truck inspired the product.

'It scared me enough that I started looking for a product that would alert me when they're coming.'

Hohs said crashes with emergency vehicles are a major problem. The device has a sensor that detects the sound of an emergency vehicle siren. The device then sends a warning to the driver's phone or other connected device when an emergency vehicle is in the area.

A company called Sober Steering has developed a device to stop drunken drivers. The device can detect alcohol in the skin. If the driver's alcohol level is too high, it shuts down the vehicle.

Sober Steering sells the device to companies that operate large fleets of vehicles, like trucking and bus companies.

Catherine Carroll is the Chief Operating Officer of Sober Steering.

'If I'm drinking and I have levels above a preset limit, it immobilizes the vehicle, so you can't move the vehicle that you're driving.'

Just as connected technology is changing life at home and at work, it is also changing life on the road. And increasingly for cars, connected technology has become as important as performance and styling.

I'm Adam Brock.

Mike O'Sullivan reported this story for VOA from Los Angeles. Adam Brock adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck edited the story.

Would you like your car to have these abilities? Leave a comment or post on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

fashionable - adj. currently popular

cruise control - n. an electronic device in a motor vehicle that can be switched on to maintain a selected constant speed without the use of the accelerator

sensor - n. a device that detects or senses heat, light, sound, motion, etc., and then reacts to it in a particular way

dashboard - n. the part of the inside of a car, truck, etc., that is below the windshield and that has the controls on it

inspire - v. to make (someone) want to do something : to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create

detect - v. to discover or notice the presence of (something that is hidden or hard to see, hear, taste, etc.)

drunk - adj. having drunk so much alcohol that normal actions (such as talking, thinking, and moving) become difficult to do

fleet - n. a group of vehicles that move or work together or that are controlled or owned by one company

immobilize - v. to keep (something or someone) from moving or working : to make (something or someone) immobile

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