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Driver assistance obstacle course

Adding new safety tech to an older vehicle

Many newer vehicles are equipped with driver safety technology to help prevent accidents and collisions. Technology like lane departure warnings, blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic alerts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has done the research to show that these technologies work.  

But what if you drive an older vehicle? You can add these same technologies to your current car and make your time on the road a lot safer. I asked some great drivers here who didn’t have much experience with driver assistance technology to try out some of the latest gear in this growing category.

Obviously, the next logical step was... to build an obstacle course. 

The course

Building a safe obstacle course

We gathered in the parking lot of our Returns Facility to test-drive the Crutchfield hybrid SUV. We equipped it with aftermarket parking sensors, a backup cam, and a dash cam. Our obstacle course of boxes and traffic cones safely let folks see what new tech can do.

Gear list:

  • FenSens replacement license plate frame equipped with wireless parking sensors — We mounted this license plate frame with parking sensors on the front of our SUV, and warnings were wirelessly sent to a smartphone. FenSens equips their app for use with two frames if you'd like to add one to the rear of your vehicle as well. (Note: This FenSens replacement license plate frame has been discontinued but we have a variety of comparable solutions.)
  • Boyo backup cam with LED lights and trajectory lines — It’s one thing to have a 170° view of what’s behind you, but when you have parking lines that bend to show you an accurate trajectory, you’re equipped for more accurate reversing. 
  • Garmin dash cam with driver assistance — We used this tiny cam to record all of our drivers’ obstacle course activities. If we’d run tests at higher speeds, this cam would have also provided warnings for Foward Collision, Lane Departure, and more.

Obstacle course goal: Unlike most obstacle courses, the goal wasn't to push the challengers to extremes, but rather to help them feel comfortable trying out new driving experiences in a low-stakes setting.


Backup slalom

First challenge — the backup slalom

Alexis driving.

Goal: Use the backup cam to successfully slalom in reverse between four traffic cones.

Driver experience: “If you have to squeeze through a tight spot, those trajectory parking lines let you know exactly what you’re dealing with instead of going with your gut. That’s helpful in a ride this big.” — Alexis, Crutchfield Social Media Producer


Parallel parking

Second challenge — parallel parking an SUV

Hannah driving.

Goal: Street parking perfection.

Driver experience: “I always find it troublesome when I’m parallel parking and can barely see a smaller car parked behind me. The backup cam changes everything. I want one now.” —Hannah, Crutchfield Designer


Box alley

Third challenge — back into box alley

Goal: Center the SUV in the parking space.

Driver experience: “I consider myself a pretty good ‘parker’ but the camera is a confidence-booster that just makes the whole thing a breeze.”  — Hannah, Crutchfield Designer


Wall pull-up

Fourth challenge — wall pull-up

Charlie thumbs up.

Goal: Get as close as possible to the wall but don’t touch it!

“I thought I got pretty close to the boxes without using sensors, but in a vehicle like this, it’s hard to be sure. With those sensors on, I knew just when to stop. That’d be pretty darn handy in a packed parking garage.” — Charlie, Crutchfield Car A/V Web Editor


J not using the sensor.

Our photographer, J, did not use a front end sensor and this was the result. We don't recommend you try this at home.

Other helpful driver assistance gear

Already have a backup cam and a dash cam? There's even more gear you can add to your ride to improve your drive. Check out these solutions...

Voxx sensors
  • Voxx blind spot & cross-traffic detection - This blind spot detection system equips you to change lanes with confidence. The included license plate frame detects vehicles approaching from behind you and gives you a heads-up with mountable indicators. It’ll do the same with cross-traffic when backing out of a space.
Brandmotion mirror
  • Brandmotion all-in-one rear-view mirror - Brandmotion packs a dash cam, a constant rear-view video feed, and a functional rear-view mirror into one impressive package. Pile the way-back high with stuff, and you'll still have an uncluttered, wide angle-view of traffic behind you as you drive. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Final thoughts on driver assistance gear

When the drivers all gathered after their obstacle course runs, we talked about the overall experience. The concensus was that, while driver asssistance takes a little getting used to, the upside is huge when integrated with traditional safe driving practices like mirror use and visual confirmation.

Looking for more ideas? Give us a call!

Last updated 2/4/2020