Toyota is making a point to emphasize passenger safety, which is why nearly every Toyota vehicle comes with more than the six required air bags. Another aspect of Toyota’s dedication to safety is the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) packages, which the company is adding as standard equipment to an increasing number of models. The key features of TSS packages include some relatively advanced driver assistance systems.
The Pre-Collision System has become a key safety feature now that it’s started to catch on. A camera and laser range finder combination detects cars and large obstacles in front of your vehicle and how fast they’re approaching. If it’s fast enough to be dangerous, it gives the driver both audio and visual warnings. If the obstacle gets close enough, it can also hit the brakes faster than a person can react. Some versions of the feature come with Pedestrian Detection, which lets it see smaller obstacles, like people and wild animals.
Lane Departure Alert
Two cameras check the road for lines and other lane markers to make sure your car stays within the lines. If it doesn’t, and the turn signal isn’t on, the system will warn you. Advanced LDA comes with Steering Assist, which can move the car back to the center of your lane if you don’t steer back yourself. However, Steering Assist only makes small corrections for a short time, because steering the vehicle is still the driver’s responsibility.
Automatic High Beams
When this feature is active, a front-end camera looks for oncoming headlights and tail lights. If it notices someone getting close enough, it will automatically switch off the high beams so you won’t dazzle the other drivers. You’ll still need to shut off the high beams when you’re on well-lit city streets or driving in heavy rain or fog, and the system only starts working once your car reaches a minimum speed.
Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
This next-generation cruise control system uses the same camera and range finder as the Pre-Collision System. Dynamic Radar Cruise Control lets you set both a preferred speed and a preferred follow distance that dynamically changes based on current speed. If the vehicle in front of you slows down, you’ll slow down, and if traffic speeds up you’ll return to your preset speed.
More advanced Toyota models now come with DRCC with Full-Speed Range. While the normal version only works between 25 and 110 mph, the Full-Speed Range version will keep working even if you come to a complete stop. However, you should only use it for highway traffic and not city roads, since there are other reasons why you should be ready to hit the brakes while driving in the city.
Slowly but surely, Toyota is adding both the Toyota Safety Sense P and TSS-C to more car models in its effort to get ahead of the curve when it comes to safety. So while other companies may only give you features like automatic cruise control and emergency forward braking on top-level trims or in separate packages, Toyota vehicles are becoming some of the safest on the road.
Image by bernardsie, used under CCO 1.0