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2013-02-05 10:23

WRONG-WAY ALERT: Mercedes-Benz have come to the rescue of wrong-way drivers in Germany with new traffic sign assistance system.

STUTTGART, Germany - Road deaths due to people driving on the wrong side of main roads and freeways have been on the rise recently but Mercedes-Benz has come up with a new warning system.

The traffic sign assistance system is designed to recognise no-entry signs and give an acoustic and visual warning to the driver who's about to stray on to the incorrect highway and become a dangerous threat to oncoming traffic. The system will be available for the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class and face-lifted E-Class due later in 2013.

Weekly reports such as "There's a vehicle driving the wrong way on the A1, the A2, the A5, the A46…" became the norm over the last three months of 2012 in Europe where more than 25 people died. According to NewsPress, wrong-way drivers are only mentioned as a rule by the news media when their actions are fatal. Wrong-way drivers in Germany are called "phantom drivers" (Geisterfahrer) and their statistics are shocking.

REAL-LIFE SITUATIONS

The German Federal Department of Transport estimates there are about 1700 annual radio warnings about phantom vehicles although another organisation reports that figure to be higher and sits at 2800 – more than seven a day.

Mercedes-Benz's new system will warn drivers should they violate traffic regulations and ignore no-entry signs for any reason.
 
The company’s Professor Thomas Weber, responsible for group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development, says: "On our journey towards the vision of accident-free driving, we orientate ourselves on real-life accident situations to provide the best protection to all road users. The very idea that we will be using the intelligent drive system to reduce the risk of vehicles unintentionally travelling against the flow of traffic, once again brings us one big step closer to this goal."

It works with a camera on the inside of the windscreen which identifies no-entry signs and sends the information to the car's computer. If it detects that the vehicle is about to pass the prohibitory signs and is entering a national road system the system will warn the driver. Three loud beeps will be heard while a red no-entry symbol lights up in the display; the information is verified by the car's satnav.

If poor visibility limits the system's optics – during heavy snow or rain, perhaps – the system will report itself "temporarily unavailable".

The system will be gradually introduced into other models and will initially be designed primarily for Germany. Mercedes is working on adapting the system for use in other countries.

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