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Let’s discuss cars with automatic braking

This week’s featured article

JIJI, KYODO

Cars with automatic braking and other systems to prevent accidents caused by driver error are becoming increasingly popular in Japan, where such accidents involving elderly drivers are on the rise.

Just on May 2, a car driven by a woman in her 70s rammed into a hospital in Oita Prefecture, injuring her and 12 other people. She is suspected of stepping too hard on the gas pedal.

The government aims to boost the proportion of cars with automatic braking to at least 90 percent of new vehicles by 2020, double the present share.

Mazda Motor Corp. plans to make its i-Activsense safety system, which includes automatic braking, standard in all five of its mainstay models by next April. The first in the series, the Demio compact car, was released on April 20.

Toyota Motor Corp. is expanding its lineup of vehicles with the Toyota Safety Sense system, aiming to cover almost all passenger cars sold in Japan, the United States and Europe by the end of this year.

More minivehicles are also being built with similar safety systems. This is mainly because mass production has pushed down the prices of key components, such as cameras and sensors, even as their performance has improved.

At Daihatsu Motor Co., a minivehicle maker under the wing of Toyota, 70 to 80 percent of customers choose models with the Smart Assist safety system, according to a Daihatsu official.

Subaru Corp.’s cumulative sales of vehicles with the EyeSight collision prevention system reached 500,000 units in February. EyeSight, released in 2008, is the Japanese industry’s first system for preventing accidents caused by driver error.

“Customers have a very strong interest in safety equipment,” said Subaru President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga. “We want to strengthen this area as a feature of our company.”

The government is promoting the spread of cars with safety systems, calling them “safety support cars.”

It is also considering making it compulsory to equip all vehicles with automatic braking systems.

First published in The Japan Times on May 3.

Warm up

One-minute chat about cars.

Game

Collect words related to safety, e.g., accident, police, fire.

New words

1) ram: to crash, e.g., “The driver lost control and rammed his car into a house.”

2) mainstay: main source of support, e.g., “Tourism is the mainstay of the country’s economy.”

3) component: part, e.g., “The company makes engine components.”

4) compulsory: something you have to do, e.g., “Military service is compulsory here.”

Guess the headline

C_ _ s with advanced s_ _ _ _ _ systems

catching on in Japan

Questions

1) How are cars changing in Japan?

2) What does the Japanese government plan to do by 2020 regarding vehicles?

3) How have manufacturing costs for safety systems changed?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Have you ever experienced a car accident?

2) Would you like to switch from your current vehicle to a “safety support car”?

3) What do you think is needed to reduce car accidents in Japan?

Reference

車のある社会では事故の可能性は常に潜んでいますが、高齢ドライバーによる事故がニュースで取り上げられるようになり、ドライバーの判断力に頼らずとも事故を防ぐ能力を備えた自動車が注目されています。各自動車会社にとっても、この機能を備えたことで買い替えが促進されるという効果がありそうです。社会構造が変わりゆく中で私たちが安全かつ快適に暮らしていくためには、車とどう向き合っていけばよいのでしょうか。

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