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New Ford Focus Predicts Spin-Outs

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Steveu
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Iron
spin out
Steveu   3/4/2015 8:41:14 AM
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While the technology is great, how much control is being taken away from the driver?  I recall an incident many many years ago.  I was driving during an ice storm and was sliding uncontrolled towards an intersection where I had the red light.  To avoid a collision, I spun out on purpose, which actually worked. Could I do this today?

Subnormal
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Silver
Re: spin out
Subnormal   3/4/2015 11:14:10 AM
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not sure how to test that one, i have done the same a couple of times, although if i had the spin control i probably would not have had the issue in the first place.

smdpe
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Iron
Focus snow safety
smdpe   3/4/2015 9:25:21 AM
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I was recently in a fair amount of snow with a 2014 Focus and found the satety features to be working against each other to the point that the car would barely move. The traction control was applying the brakes and the skid control (or something) would not let me apply power. If one wheel would start to spin (very slick snow), the brakes would be applied on the spinning wheel.  Apparently, if the brakes are applied, the throttle will not function.

Critic
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Platinum
Re: Focus snow safety
Critic   3/4/2015 10:55:53 AM
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In late-model Mustangs, and probably many other cars as well, if the powered wheel(s) is/are on the verge of spinning, the traction control system will both back off the throttle and apply the brake(s) on the spinning wheel(s) as necessary.  Not a highly desirable feature for a skilled driver, but the traction control can be turned off. 

An older Mustang I own, which does not have traction control, typically wore out a set of tires in about 25,000 miles.  The tires on the newer Mustang, with traction control, lasted 83,000 miles.  So even though the traction control may not provide the best driving experience for a skilled driver, it sure saves money on tires!

Subnormal
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Silver
Re: Focus snow safety
Subnormal   3/4/2015 11:12:49 AM
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I have run into that is well, there is a setting in the menu that you can turn off, this will defeat the throttle control part of the traction control system.  It would be nice if they had a snow sensor or a button on the dash to push for this condition.  It is really annoying when you are making a turn when traction is not good where are you starting, but is clear once you get on the other road.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: Focus snow safety
William K.   3/4/2015 4:10:57 PM
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Systems not being able to handle an exception situation have always been my complaint. They all want to drive like my grandmother, which is to say in a timid and fearful manner. The worst part is that they are indeed quite willing to keep the car from moving at all. Traction control is the worst offender in that it assumes that the driver is stupid, which is not often the case.

Critic
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Platinum
Unskilled Drivers
Critic   3/4/2015 10:39:46 AM
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The stability-control, traction-control, and anti-lock brake technologies are aimed primarily at unskilled drivers.  According to statistics, these technologies may prevent accidents, but highly-skilled drivers generally would not be the ones involved in accidents, anyway.

A skilled driver can do a better job of handling a car without the technology.  For example, a skilled driver can stop a car without anti-lock brakes in a shorter distance than the anti-lock system could stop the car with an unskilled driver applying the brakes.  An anti-lock brake system is far superior to someone just locking up the wheels and letting the car skid while screaming, "I am out of control."  The systems are not superior to a highly skilled driver, though.

ttemple
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Platinum
Re: Unskilled Drivers
ttemple   3/4/2015 11:58:58 AM
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Problem is we all think we are skilled drivers.

While I have many years experience driving, and have probably logged in excess of a million miles, I like having anti-lock, and traction control.  You may be correct that some very skilled driver can stop faster than antilock, but I want to see that very skilled driver steer during a panic stop.  Antilock makes it possible to steer quite aggressively during panic stops.

I'm a firm believer that the ability of antilock brakes to respond in milliseconds is better than probably 99.99 percent of even "very skilled" drivers.  I would like to see a challenge between skilled drivers on ice without antilock against ordinary Joe with antilock.  Dry pavement is one thing, ice is another.  Where I live, I'll keep the antilock turned on this time of year.

Traction control is great in the snow and ice.  Pull up next to some big pickup truck, mash the accelerator to the floor, watch them in your mirror.

Launch control worked so good in racing that they outlawed it.

Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Good technology evolution
Elizabeth M   3/4/2015 12:08:59 PM
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I think this is a great feature, as long as (as one commenter pointed out) drivers still have some control in the situation. I don't know for sure but I bet stability is what causes the largest number of accidents, as and you point ou tin the article, Chuck, accidents are on the decline since these types of technology were introduced. It's good to see even more incremental evolution of this tech.

imagineer1000
User Rank
Iron
Re: Good technology evolution
imagineer1000   3/4/2015 2:26:52 PM
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If traffic deaths are the only metric that was considered, I don't buy the arguement it has saved lives.  Looking at the traffic deaths per 100,000 drivers, the downward trend got much steeper in 2008 and actually went slightly up in 2012.  2008 however, is also when total miles driven dropped for the first time in recent history, and it upticked in 2012 so correlation - though not necessarily causality.  I'm thinking there are a lot of other variables as well - people driving slower to conserve gas, better frame design, etc. 

Incidently, I do think it's a great feature anyways.  I know I could do better than the technology - but only if I know in advance what is coming up.

Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Re: Good technology evolution
Elizabeth M   3/4/2015 3:54:00 PM
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Well, I'm sure you're right, imagineer1000, that there are a lot of factors involved in traffic accidents. But I think any technology that can help make driving safer is good technology, whether it's the only factor affecting performance and accident prevention or not.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: Good technology evolution
William K.   3/4/2015 4:23:20 PM
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Elizabeth, the reality is still that the majority, over 80%, of accidents are caused by lack of adequate driver attention in one form or another. This does include not noticing a hazard soon enough to avoid it, which is not the same as not noticing it at all. Anti-spinout controls may save those who are not paying attention until they are so close that they can't steer around something safely.

What I missed entirely was any explanation of the mechanism of correction that would prevent the spinout. Does it apply brakes? or back off the throttle? or change the steering angle?  Of course, on a lot of vehicles the spin-out is unlikely because they understeer so very pitifully. And nobody has mentioned yet that in a collision it may be less violent to graze an obstacle with the side of the car instead of bashing into it frontally. Head-on collisions are usually the most violent ones, and should be avoided.

In a vehicle with a correctly functioning suspension the rear end should gradually start sliding, and not "come unglued" all at once. But the sad fact is that most vehicles are not set up that way.

Can anyone provide an explanation of exactly what the Ford system does in order to prevent a spin-out? I am really wondering.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Good technology evolution
Elizabeth M   3/5/2015 8:53:24 AM
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Good points, William K., and I think you are asking the right questions. I'm curious to see the answers.

ChasChas
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Platinum
driving skill
ChasChas   3/4/2015 3:21:54 PM
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I live in the snow and ice country. I can out-perform any of these safety devises except maybe traction control on glare ice. I drive as though they are not there and I don't notice them. I still "squeeze brake" on ice, etc. There are conditions where a little controlled sliding will build up the hard snow in front of the tires and enhance the braking big time - sad, but this is gone now.

Where they shine is when we reach the panic point - and we all can panic - or in the dark where we can't read the road surface conditions as well as we would like.

Many people I know have had trouble in deeper snow with traction control, but that is why they have a shutoff switch for it.

But, this prediction thing is new, I may not even know it is working - I like it.

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