How Traffic Jam Assistance Systems Work

Will Volvo's traffic jam assistance system really alleviate traffic jams? Check out these car safety pictures to learn more!
Jon Hicks/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

What do you get when you mix familiar, comfortable, reliable cruise control with lane assist (a general term for a host of new-ish features that automatically help your car maintain an ideal lane position)? What about the tiny bumper-mounted cameras that help you park? They might be invaluable when you're squeezing into the last spot at the curb, but they take it easy the rest of the time, sitting idle while your car is doing heavy-duty. Might as well give 'em another chore so they can really earn their keep. We can't even pinpoint all the other cameras and sensors that your car might or might not have -- each automaker has its own options and intended purpose. And then there's automatic braking technology -- after all, if the car knows it has to slow down or stop, and it can, why shouldn't it?

All of these features already exist in some form or another -- for the past few model years, anyway. In some cases, like in the instance of cruise control, some of these features have been around for ages -- with regular improvements, of course. And as car buyers become more accustomed to super-safe, cocoon-like vehicles, safety features that were once considered premium options are becoming increasingly common standard items. Although each automaker gives different names to its suite of safety technology and gadgetry, most of these systems work essentially the same and offer the same benefits.

By taking a long, hard look at old and new automotive safety tools, automakers have found ways to combine them for new safety features (which, of course, opens the door for new marketing opportunities). The latest is called "traffic jam assistance," using anti-collision, anti-bump and anti-scrape tools to help your car glide smoothly along in the most annoying of road conditions. Traffic jam assistance is expected to be available on new Volvo cars in 2014. So, over the next couple of years, your commute just might get a lot more comfortable ... all in the name of safety.