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What Is Nissan Safety Shield?

nissan leaf sl plus 2021 20 front row  instrument panel  interior  safety tech jpg 2021 Nissan Leaf SL Plus | Cars.com photo by Joe Bruzek

Safety Shield is Nissan’s name for its collection of high-tech active safety features that are intended to help avoid collisions with objects and people. These are different from passive safety features — such as seat belts and airbags — that are designed to reduce injuries once a crash has already occurred.

Related: What Is Toyota Safety Sense?

Note that active safety features would also include such things as anti-lock brakes and anti-skid systems, but those have been around for quite a while and aren’t generally considered “high-tech” in today’s light.

What Safety Shield Includes

Features included in Safety Shield have varied over the years. In its first reference for 2011, it included (among current high-tech features) only blind spot warning. For 2013, the automaker added lane departure warning and moving object detection.

More features followed, and models getting only some of them were not touted as having Safety Shield. For 2019, Safety Shield 360 was introduced, which included the first six features described below that sense dangerous situations all around the vehicle. By model-year 2022, nearly all of Nissan’s cars, SUVs and pickups will offer Safety Shield 360.

Here’s a look at each feature:

Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection

Automatic emergency braking detects when you’re not braking soon enough or hard enough to avoid a collision with an object ahead. The system emits a warning and automatically applies the brakes if needed. Note that none of this may happen in time to completely avoid a collision — particularly under slippery conditions — but any reduction in speed can reduce the force of an impact and the severity of a crash. Pedestrian detection can detect people walking across the front of the vehicle and will apply the brakes if you don’t.

Lane Departure Warning

Visual and audible alerts are given when you drift out of your lane without the turn signal for the side activated. Typically, lane markings (stripes on the road) need to be present in order for the system to work.

Blind Spot Warning

This system alerts you to vehicles traveling in the blind spot over your left or right shoulder. In some cases, a light will appear any time a vehicle is sensed, with an audible alert sounding if you activate the turn signal for that side.

High Beam Assist

When your high beams (also referred to as “brights”) are on, the system will switch to low beams when an oncoming vehicle is detected, then go back to high beams when it passes.

Rear Cross Traffic Alert

This system sounds a warning when in reverse if a vehicle is detected in your path.

Rear Automatic Braking

Rear automatic braking is designed to detect if you’re closing in too rapidly on an object directly behind when backing up. It sounds a warning then applies the brakes if you don’t. However, Nissan notes that it “cannot prevent all collisions and may not provide warning or braking in all conditions. Driver should always turn and check surroundings before driving.”

Forward Collision Warning

Forward collision warning alerts you when you’re closing in too quickly on an object ahead. Some systems add the ability to apply the brakes if you don’t — a combination often called forward collision warning and mitigation, but now commonly referred to as automatic emergency braking.

Moving Object Detection

This system sounds an alert when it detects objects or people moving toward your vehicle.

Limitations and Safety Implications

It’s important to note that all systems explained above — regardless of manufacturer — rely on sensors that may not work under some conditions, such as adverse weather. They cannot be considered 100% reliable, and thus should never be counted on to replace a driver’s normal vigilance.

Also note that Safety Shield (including Safety Shield 360) does not offer any kind of hands-free, self-driving or semi-autonomous capability. Thus, it should not be confused with Nissan’s ProPilot Assist system, which — though your hands still must be on the wheel — includes features that help you stay centered in your lane and match the speed of the vehicle ahead, even when that vehicle comes to a stop and starts again.

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