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Some new Nissans will warn of crashes

YOKOSUKA, Japan -- Some Nissan cars will soon come with a gas pedal that lifts to warn of possible collisions, while the cars will automatically stop if drivers take their foot off the accelerator in response to the warning.

The technology combines radar sensors and a computer to assess speed and the distance to the vehicle ahead, Nissan Motor Co. said yesterday.

Cars with the new safety features will be available this year in Japan, and next year in the United States.

As soon as a driver lifts his foot off the gas pedal, the brakes kick in automatically to bring the car to a stop. The car will keep going if the driver continues to step on the gas pedal.

Nissan also showed an experimental system to measure alcohol levels in a driver's sweat from sensors in the gearshift. The system stops short of locking the ignition but issues a voice warning.

The car also recognizes if a driver is drifting between lanes, and comes with a computerized camera that monitors blinking to check whether a driver is drunk or drowsy.

Nissan officials said people probably wouldn't buy such an intrusive car, but the technology may have commercial uses, such as in delivery trucks and taxicabs.

More practical is the lane- departure prevention technology, which swivels a car back into its lane if it swerves off. It will be offered this year in the United States on the Infiniti EX luxury model.