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We’re facing a hard reality these days – no matter how much it’s advertise that driving distracted is not a danger to yourself but others around, the message just seems to go through one ear and out the other. And it isn’t just texting that’s causing this – it’s the general use of cellphone and other in-car distractions. Texting is the number one main distraction, but how many of you use your phone for navigation, to find a place to eat, to call somebody or even use the cars-based apps through the touch screen infotainment system? These are all distractions that even I can admit I am at fault of.

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Most drivers I’ve come in contact with, driving has become a nuisance to them. Not aware the dangers that faces them when they’re distracted. Automakers see this, and realize its time to take a course of action because reality is, it’s not going to get any better. Since the driver can’t behavior properly behind the wheel, why not make the car behave properly for them? Protect the world from the driver.

In every car we test, we see the trend of the latest safety features. Features such has lane departure warning that signals you as you merge out of your lane without indicating, lane keep assist that can help guide you back into said lane, forward collision alert that sends a tone or vibration to you before hitting an object and forward collision emergency braking when the alert wasn’t enough to take a course of action. These are fundamental safety features that can help aid in the prevention or lower the risk of a potential fatal accident.

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However, most automakers make these features an optional package that must be bought into – usually on the top spec’d vehicle with all the bells and whistles that can cost $3000-$5000 more in options. Toyota, on the other hand is taking a proactive step and making these safety features standard on all their cars with very little impact on the price.

Toyota is calling it: Toyota Safety Sense – or TSS for short. There are two variants of the system, TSS-C and TSS-P. TSS-C is geared toward their more compact cars, i.e. Yaris iA and Prius C. This gets equipped with the Pre-Collision Alert System, Lane Departure Warning and Automatic High Beam Assist. TSS-P represents Premium and will be found in cars such as the new Corolla, Prius and Camry – and so on. TSS-P carries over the same features as TSS-C however expands it to have Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collison Pedestrian Detection, Emergency Automatic Braking and Lane Keep Assist and Intelligent Park Assist.

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When we test our cars, we don’t always look to test these safety features – we’re quite familiar with most of the safety features but haven’t really seen a few in action. Toyota invited us out for a little demonstration to introduce their new product and inform us on how they work.

Automatic Emergency Braking isn’t something we seek out to test – so it was quite a spectacle to see it work on a closed course. Settled in the passenger seat of a Toyota Prius Five, the professional driver began to accelerate – when the Pre-Collision System noticed we were about to hit an object, it sends out an alert, when the driver didn’t take any action, it applied the brakes; therefore stopping before hitting the object.

Adaptive Cruise Control is something we are quite familiar – and it works the way it sounds When the ACC is set, the cruise control monitors the vehicle in front maintaining its same speed – if the vehicle slows down, you slow down – if the vehicle speeds up, you speed back up to the original set MPH that was initially engaged.

The last demonstration Toyota had was the Intelligent Park Assist. This is something we don’t typical use because, well, we know how to fit a car between two lines. But this aid definitely works for those that don’t parallel park on regular basis or don’t know how to parallel park. The system uses sonar sensors to detect if a space is large enough to fit the vehicle, and if it detects a space, it sounds an alarm – the system guides you step by step as to what to do – and all you do as the driver is control the brake pedal while the system controls the steering.

I would like to take this opportunity to send a special thanks to Allison+Partners and the Toyota Team Members for hosting this event and inviting us.

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