A car driving along a highway in the wrong direction and against oncoming traffic is a dangerous act and there have been many such instances in Malaysia, some with tragic endings. In those cases, reports suggested that the drivers deliberately drove on the wrong side of the highway, either because they were drunk or they were crazy.

In Europe too, there are instances of motorists driving on the wrong side of the highway. However, such cases are more likely to be due to genuine errors (especially by drivers from righthand drive Britain motoring in lefthand drive Europe) or disorientation. The phenomenon has given rise to the term ‘ghost driver’ in various languages. During 2016, German radio stations interrupted programmes 2,200 times to issue warnings and in 2017 alone, 22 people were killed in accidents involving wrong-way drivers on motorways in that country.

“These accidents can be devastating. Drivers who are tired, confused by poor road signs, or driving in bad weather can take the wrong turn, only to find they have put themselves and other people on the motorway in real danger,” said Jan Guesten, a development engineer involved in Driver Assistance Technologies at Ford of Europe.

To help prevent such a nightmare, Ford has developed Wrong Way Alert technology, a system which builds on its existing Traffic Sign Recognition technology. This uses GPS information from the onboard navigation system to identify the car’s location and a forward-facing, windscreen-mounted camera to detect important signs such as speed limits and displays them to the driver on the dashboard or Head-up display.

In situations where a driver passes two NO ENTRY signs on either side of a slip road on to a motorway or dual carriageway, Wrong Way Alert sounds a warning and displays to the driver a red NO ENTRY symbol as well as a message to check the driving direction.

Ford tested the technology, which is initially available in the latest Focus model for customers in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, on the company’s test track in Belgium. Tests were done on a wide variety of junctions with the system’s camera was mounted in front of a computer monitor displaying a virtual driving environment created using real-world GPS data.

Besides Wrong Way Alert, other advanced, confidence-inspiring technologies developed by Ford include features that enable it to automatically brake if the car detects a potential collision with pedestrians or bicycles, or help drivers take evasive action to avoid obstacles ahead. There is also a system which can park the car by itself, with the driver only managing the accelerator pedal to provide power.

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Visit www.sdacford.com.my to know more about Ford models available in Malaysia.

[Chips Yap]

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