... continued from
page 1 - Accident statistics show that
driving at night represents a significant potential
danger: in Germany, some 50 per cent of fatal car
accidents happen at night, although an average of 75
per cent of all driving is done during the day. This means
that the risk of driving at night is twice as high
as during the day.
Vision cover pedestrians, animals and
objects at the side of the road or on the
road. They represent the greatest dangers,
especially if they are located outside the
cone of light shed by the headlights.
A similar situation is to be found in
the US: with a 28 per cent share of all driving, 55 per
cent of all fatal accidents occur at night. Accident
statistics throughout Europe as a whole also justify
intensive consideration of the issue of nocturnal driving.
According to estimates, approx. 560,000 people are injured
in the dark in Europe and some 23,000 are killed.
The reasons are obvious: poor or
significantly limited sight conditions on country roads,
obstacles or narrow bends which are recognised too late
with the low beam, inappropriate judgement of speed or
distance due to a lack of orientation for the eye, driving
into the “black hole” of the headlights of oncoming
traffic, possibly exacerbated by wet, reflecting road
surfaces – just to mention a few examples.
People (and animals) - The
darkly dressed jogger in the half light, the
insufficiently lit cyclist at night: the increased risk to
pedestrians poses one of the biggest safety problems in
the dark. Here again, the Federal Office for Statistics is
clear: over 25,000 accidents per year involving
pedestrians and cyclists occur during the night in
All in all, facts, figures and
experience show clearly that solutions are required for
night-time driving which reduce the risk of accidents.
Naturally, public authorities bear a significant
responsibility in terms of making roads safe with improved
lighting, markings and signposting. However, the vehicle
itself offers considerable potential. Here, technologies
must be used which can be specifically adapted in
vehicles. The aim of driver assistance systems is
to enable the detection of “dangerous” or “endangering”
situations as early as possible.
Here, there is no doubt that
pedestrians, animals and objects at the side of the road
or on the road represent the greatest dangers, especially
if they are located outside the cone of light shed by the
headlights. They do not only endanger themselves but put
other road users equally at risk.
Driver assistance systems make sense
when they help detect people, animals and objects at night
and provide an early warning system. BMW Night Vision
and High-Beam Assist have particularly great
potential effectiveness for this very function.
Driver assistance systems such as
High-Beam Assist and BMW Night Vision cannot
offer total safety. To promise this would be misleading,
and it is important that their potential is properly
understood. They provide better information for the driver
than was previously available and make danger more easily
recognisable, but they do not automatically intervene in
the situation on the road. Driver assistance systems work
rather like a very attentive passenger, facilitating the
detection of potentially critical situations for the
driver according to the principle of “four eyes see more
Once driver assistance systems are
activated by the driver, they accompany him continuously.
Their function is to give the driver more options, thus
offering a safety bonus. This bonus can be crucial: due to
its long range (up to 300 m), BMW Night Vision
provides a time gain of about 5 seconds at 100 km/h
as compared to the detectability of objects with high beam
only. Ideally, therefore, with the high beam switched on,
the driver is informed 5 seconds earlier than previously
about a potentially dangerous situation.
BMW initiative -
BMW Night Vision and High-Beam Assist are the
current high point of an initiative by BMW to make
nocturnal driving safer for all road users and to offer
the driver increased comfort. Xenon light, which
provides significantly increase brilliance and range, was
introduced in the year 1991 (Bi-Xenon for
low and high beam in 2001). It was followed by the Adaptive
Headlight in 2003, whose horizontally swivelling
headlamps ensure considerably improved illumination
of the road ahead. Xenon light is now available for all
models and is even part of the standard equipment of some
BMW models, Adaptive Headlight is available as an optional
extra for almost all BMW models. The introduction of
High-Beam Assist and BMW Night Vision is the
logical next step for BMW in creating more safety and
comfort in the dark.
A study in the US revealed that over 80
per cent of interviewees wanted a night vision system when
asked to name desired automobile features to increase
safety. In another study, also conducted in the US,
High-Beam Assist was rated most highly among anticipated
new technologies in automobiles – based on a description
of the function and the anticipated price.
More on next page.