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Car News : 2012 Detroit Auto Show

2013 Ford Fusion Will Get Smart About Lane Drift Warning

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author photo by Nick Chambers
  • A completely redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion will make its world debut at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show next week.
  • The car will be the first in the popular North American mid-size sedan market to get an optional lane drift warning system for drowsy drivers.
  • Ford's system relies on a digital camera to monitor lane markings and will vibrate the steering wheel and pull the car back into its lane when necessary.

According to rumors, the next generation Ford Fusion is set to get a radical exterior makeover when it debuts at next week's Detroit Auto Show. But if indications from the company are any guide, the exterior makeover is only half the story, with rumored technology and interior improvements set to be some of the car's biggest feature changes.

Ahead of the official unveiling, Ford is stoking the technology fire a bit more with an announcement that the 2013 Fusion will be the first mainstream, mid-size sedan to get an optional lane keeping assist system to help prevent drowsy drivers from drifting. Systems like it are already found on many luxury vehicles, but given that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says drowsy driving contributes to more than 100,000 police reported crashes in the U.S. each year-and 1,500 fatalities-it's clear that putting systems like this into more mainstream vehicles could, quite literally, be a lifesaver.

Ford's system uses a digital camera mounted on the windshield in front of the rearview mirror that can identify lane markings and the position of the car within those markings. At speeds above 40 mph, if the system notices an impending lane departure without an accompanying turn signal it lets the driver know with a vibrating steering wheel to simulate rumble strips. If the driver fails to respond and the car continues to drift the system will guide the car back into its lane.

If the drifting behavior doesn't stop the car starts providing the driver with both visual and audible alerts of increasing intensity meant to warn them when it's time to take a break and get some coffee or sleep. If this sounds like a bit too much intrusion don't worry, the system can be turned off manually for those that don't like it, and once a driver pulls over and turns off the engine it resets its information.

Although the 2013 Fusion will be the first car to get the technology, Ford says it will roll the optional system out to many more vehicles over the next few years, with the popular Explorer also getting the system in 2012.

What it means to you:

The 2013 Ford Fusion is looking like it will be packed with cutting edge technology, including a life-saving drowsy driver alert system that can keep the car on the road and warn the driver that it's time to take a break.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.