Lane departure warning

12 minute read Published on Jan 15, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Closeup of a road and skyline

Nowadays, cars have all kinds of state-of-the-art safety features, and one such feature is lane departure warning. To understand how lane departure warning works, how it can benefit you, and how it might even lead to lower car insurance rates, keep reading.

Lane departure warning explained

Before we dive into the history of lane departure warning in vehicles, let’s first explain what lane departure warning is. This unique safety feature is designed to help drivers avoid accidents caused by drifting or departing from their lane.

The system works like this: it detects lane markers on the road and alerts the driver when a tire touches a lane marker or crosses a lane marker without the correct indicator having been turned on.

The alert usually comes in the form of a beeping noise, steering wheel vibration, or a flashing indicator on the side of the lane departure indicator on the dash. In some vehicles, the car’s steering wheel or driver’s seat may also vibrate. As mentioned, most lane departure warning systems will not alert the driver if they’ve turned the appropriate signal on.

The history of lane departure warning

Lane departure warning is a safety feature that was first conceived in the late 1980s. Specifically, it was British inventor Nick Parish who is credited with inventing this type of technology. The first car it was ever installed in was a Rover SD1 in 1989.

Roughly ten years later, the first production lane departure warning system was developed for Mercedes Actros commercial trucks and it was introduced in 2000. In this early iteration of the system, the driver would be warned of accidental lane departures by a rumble sound strip emitted on the side of the vehicle that was drifting out of the lane.

In the early 2000s, several other automakers started adding similar lane departure warning systems to their cars, including Nissan, Toyota, and Honda.

As the technology continued to expand, more and more automakers began integrating the technology into their vehicles, such as Audi, Lexus, Kia, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla. As the use of lane departure warning systems became more commonplace, studies started to be done on their efficacy. The research found that motorists driving cars with lane-keeping and blind spot monitoring systems, such as lane departure warning systems, had lower accident rates than those who drove vehicles without these systems. Such systems may be able to help reduce the risks that come with impaired or distracted driving.

How does lane departure warning work?

Lane departure warning uses a front-facing camera that is mounted behind the windshield of your car, just in front of the rearview mirror. When your vehicle is travelling, the camera will work to detect lanes and monitor whether you are travelling outside of your lane.

It is a good idea to check the owner’s manual for your vehicle to find out the specific features of your car’s lane departure warning system. For example, some systems only alert the driver that they are travelling outside of their lane when their indicator or signal is not turned on.

Further, others will only activate when you are travelling over a certain speed. We will go into greater detail about the differences between lane departure warning and lane keeping assist systems in a bit.

However, it is worth noting that some vehicles are also equipped with lane keeping assist, which is essentially a more advanced version of lane departure warning. With this type of system, not only will your car alert you if you start to drift over a lane marker but it will also gently steer you back into the correct lane.

How to use lane departure warning

Depending on the model of vehicle you drive, your lane departure warning system may need to be activated by manually pressing a button. The system may be automatically activated in other vehicles when you turn your car on.

Typically, an indicator light on the dashboard will light up when the lane departure warning system is turned on. A reminder that some lane departure warning systems only work when the car is travelling over a certain speed.

Lane departure warning vs lane keeping assistance

Lane departure warning and lane keeping assistance are two unique types of safety features, although they share several similarities. Some vehicles have both, some only have lane departure warning, and some have neither.

Lane departure warning is essentially a more simplistic version of lane keeping assistance. It provides a visual, audible, or tactile alert to let the driver know that they are on or have crossed a lane marker.

The type of alert you might receive includes a beeping sound, an indicator light, or a steering wheel or driver’s seat vibration. None of these alerts typically go off when the turn signal is on.

In contrast, lane keeping assistance provides steering support to the driver to prevent them from departing from their lane. For example, in addition to alerting you that you are drifting out of your lane, it will nudge you back into the lane through your steering wheel.

No matter what type of lane assist system your car has, they function similarly in that they use forward-facing cameras to detect lane markers on the road and around your vehicle. If your vehicle is equipped with both lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, the two will be linked so that they are used in conjunction. In most vehicles, these features will turn on when the car turns on, meaning you will need to manually turn them off by pushing a button if you wish to deactivate them.

Limitations and potential dangers of lane departure warning systems

Although lane departure warning and lane keeping assist systems have proven to reduce the risk of collisions for a list of common car accidents, they do have their limitations.

For instance, lane departure warning systems rely on visible lane markers. The reality is that many roads, especially new or worn roads, have markers that are faded, incorrect, or not yet marked. On these types of roads, lane departure warnings would be rendered ineffective. Further, lane markers that are covered, such as by snow or slush, also would not be able to be detected.

Meanwhile, a potential danger lies with lane keeping assist systems. Although these systems still require driver input, they are a form of autonomous driving, since they do steer the car temporarily. There are still lots of risks that come with autonomous driving technology, and there are an increasing amount of laws and restrictions being put in place around this type of technology.

Vehicle safety features and car insurance rates

Did you know that vehicle safety features, such as lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, may influence your car insurance rates? It’s true! The safety rating of your vehicle is one factor that can impact how much you pay for auto insurance in Canada.

The safer the vehicle is, and the more safety features it has, the less likely you are to get into an accident. Since accidents affect car insurance rates, an insurance company may reduce your rates if you drive a safe and reliable car with lots of safety features.

While certain safety features can allow you to qualify for lower premiums, it is worth noting that vehicles with lots of state-of-the-art safety systems are usually more valuable. As such, your insurance premium may be higher since the cost of replacing or repairing the car would also be higher.

For instance, if someone rear-ended your car, hitting your back bumper, and that bumper contained a rearview camera with sensors, it would be much more expensive to fix than a bumper without such technology.

However, again, these types of technology can make your car safer to drive, and an insurance company will look at the number assigned to the make and model of vehicle you drive by the Canadian Loss Experience Automobile Rating (CLEAR).

This system evaluates the likelihood that a specific vehicle will get into an accident and be involved in an insurance claim. The higher the number, the higher risk the car is, and the lower the number, the lower risk the car is.

If you drive a car with lots of safety features, such as lane departure warning and anti-lock brakes, the CLEAR rating is likely to be lower, which may mean cheaper auto insurance rates. In addition, some insurance companies offer special discounts to drivers with certain safety systems like anti-theft devices.

One final thought on safety features and car insurance - even if the presence of safety features in your vehicle does not result in a cheaper rate, consider the fact that these types of systems can prevent you from getting into a car accident. Whether someone has an accident in your car or you’re the one who is found to be responsible for the accident you can learn more about shared fault auto accidents by contacting BrokerLink, getting into an at-fault accident can raise your rates for up to six years.

Thus, if safety technologies, such as lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, can help you avoid an accident, this can result in major savings.

Vehicle safety features that can lower your car insurance rates

Now that you know a little more about how vehicle safety features can impact your car insurance rates, let’s break down a few specific types of safety systems that may result in cheaper premiums in Canada.

Collision warning and blind spot detection

Collision warning and blind spot detection have become increasingly common in standard vehicles. Although they were once only found in luxury vehicles, this important feature is now being used by many automakers.

How collision warning works is that when another vehicle gets too close to your car, you will receive an alert, either an audible or visible alert or both, allowing you to move your car out of the way. This system works using a network of radars and sensors to eliminate the blind spots on a car.

Collision warning and blind spot detection systems can also be linked to the brakes so that the brakes automatically kick in to stop the vehicle from crashing into the car in front of them. Since accidents remain on driving records for up to six years, increasing your car insurance rates during this time and being able to avoid a collision due to this type of safety feature can make a huge difference.

It is worth noting that if you do get into a car accident, especially if someone is injured in a car accident, you must report the car accident.

Anti-lock brakes

Anti-lock brakes are another safety feature that could help you keep your car insurance premiums low. Anti-lock braking systems have been around for a while. In other words, they are not a new safety feature, though they have advanced over the years.

First introduced in the mid 1990s, anti-lock brakes were a standard feature of most cars by the early 2000s. Anti-lock brakes make driving safer by reducing the distance that a car needs to come to a complete stop.

By reducing brake times, you will have more time to react to emergency situations and avoid a collision. Further, anti-lock brakes work wonders on snowy or icy roads as they release the brakes in bursts rather than all at once, which prevents drifting and sliding.

Adaptive cruise control

A third type of safety system that can reduce your insurance rates is adaptive cruise control. Adaptive cruise control works in conjunction with your car’s anti-lock braking system to make driving easier, safer, and more convenient.

When turned on, this feature uses sensors that detect when traffic has started to move slower or when you switch lanes to pass another car. From there, the gas or brake pedal is activated, depending on what’s happening on the road, which allows you to continue moving through traffic without turning off or modifying your cruise control settings. Adaptive cruise control is most commonly used on long road trips and when driving on highways.

Adaptive headlights

Adaptive headlights are another safety feature that is becoming more and more essential. They work as follows: They bend light around turns to increase visibility, allowing the driver to better see what is in front of them.

Vehicles equipped with adaptive headlights feature technology that gauges the speed of the car to determine how much light needs to be sent by the sensors. As you can imagine, these types of headlights are especially valuable when driving at night and on winding roads with no street lamps.


Although airbags are perhaps one of the oldest safety features in cars, they are still worth mentioning, especially given how much they have evolved over the years. With time, airbags have become even more protective and intuitive.

Nowadays, vehicles have side window airbags, as well as front airbags. The additional airbags help to minimize the chances of glass shattering and causing even worse injuries. It is worth noting that airbags may not always deploy, such as in the case of a minor accident though make sure to always call your insurance company after a minor car accident, but they can be extremely useful for more serious accidents. They are proven to reduce the severity of injuries and even save lives.

Please note that if someone is injured in a car accident, you are legally required to report it in most Canadian provinces. What happens if you don’t report a car accident is that you could face fines, have your driver’s licence suspended, or be issued demerit points.

Rearview camera

Rearview cameras are now standard in all vehicles, and for good reason. These cameras work to reduce blind spots when backing up, showing drivers what is around them as they reverse. Since they are standard, they are unlikely to result in a car insurance discount. However, having them in your car can majorly reduce the odds of you getting into an accident, which can help keep premiums low.

Anti-theft device

Anti-theft devices are the second-last type of safety feature that might impact your car insurance rates. These types of devices can help prevent your car from being stolen. They usually come with flashing lights or warning stickers to deter thieves from breaking in in the first place. If they still decide to break in, the anti-theft device will likely emit a loud honking noise in an attempt to scare them off and alert others to the fact that the car is being broken into.

Since these devices act as a major deterrent against theft, many insurance companies in Canada offer discounts to drivers who install them in their cars. Please note that anti-theft devices will likely only result in car insurance discounts for policyholders who have purchased comprehensive coverage, as it is comprehensive coverage that covers theft.

GPS tracking device

A GPS tracking device is another useful safety system in a car, especially if you want to protect against theft. Even if your car does not have an anti-theft device, a GPS tracking device can still help you if it is stolen.

For instance, it can help you track down your stolen car and even find the potential criminal who stole it. Using a dash cam with GPS capabilities may also work in place of a GPS tracking device and can help protect against theft, as well as be an important asset when filing a car insurance claim. As with anti-theft devices, some insurance companies offer discounts to drivers whose cars are equipped with GPS devices.

Bonus: Your safe driving skills

Perhaps the safest driving feature of all is a driver’s safe driving skills. Focusing on the road, giving other cars space, driving the speed limit, and obeying all traffic laws are safety practices that you should adopt every single time you are on the road.

If you need to brush up on your defensive driving skills, consider enrolling in an approved driver’s education or defensive driving program near you. These courses feature professional instructors who can give you all kinds of tips on how to stay safe on the road. Plus, if you can show your insurance company proof that you graduated from a recognized driving program in your province, you might even qualify for an insurance discount.

Contact BrokerLink

To find out more about how lane departure warning and lane keeping assist work, as well as how they can help you avoid accidents and keep your car insurance premiums low, get in touch with BrokerLink today. We are a team of licensed auto insurance experts with all kinds of resources and expertise to help you find the best possible coverage for your vehicle(s). We offer insurance quotes on all types of auto insurance, whether you're a young driver, a senior driver, or somewhere in between. Get in touch today to get a free car insurance quote.

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