Night vision. It's something I think about quite a lot behind the wheel especially this time of year, because, and I'm sorry to bring it up, the clocks have just fallen back. Meaning that every drive home is now going to happen in the dark for a long time. Trip to the grocery store? Dark. Hockey practice? Dark. Coffee shop? Dark. You get the idea. Add in some rain or snow or fog and visibility becomes a serious challenge. The stats say that when the clock changes, pedestrian collisions go up and that's before taking all of the extra animals out and about into consideration.

For a driver, it's a lot of stress. Yes, you're a good driver, so you've slowed down for the conditions, but sometimes that's not enough. There's some jerk up your backside, you still can't see that deer, and you're gripping the wheel so hard that you can't possibly maintain this level of concentration for more than a few minutes before you burn out. If this isn't how you feel when you drive at night, you're either in a large and well-lit city, or you're blissfully ignorant and not paying attention to what's going on around you.

So why haven't we done anything to fix it?

Headlight rules haven't gotten better in decades, despite the ability of automakers to add things like lasers to cars to light up the dark. Heck, there wasn't even a group running headlight tests until about a year ago.

But there are solutions, right? What about night vision goggles? Or infra-red systems? Your phone can do LiDAR, why aren't they in every car yet?

Cadillac was the first to offer a night vision system in a car. Way back in 2000, with the Deville, which was an excellent place to put it given the average age of the company's buyers back then. The feature wasn't even expensive, at just about $2,300 back then. Cadillac sold fewer than 20,000 units and dropped it for 2005.

Since then, other brands have given it a go, but always on flagship models, and always with limited take rates.

Now Cadillac is bringing it back. It started with the CT6 in 2015, but now it's on the latest Cadillac to hit the market, the XT6, and it's growing from there.

So how is it? It's awesome. There aren't many new car tech features that wow me these days, and yes, that includes any of the "self-driving" or "self-parking" features that make driving more annoying and make parking take minutes instead of seconds.

But this feature manages it.

Picture pedestrians. And animals. Because now you can picture them, albeit as amorphous white blobs, from distances you'd never have thought imaginable. In conditions you'd never have believed before taking a look at that dashboard screen.

The technology sees heat, taking infrared light and projecting it onto the in-dash screen, and that means that people look more or less like people up close, but even at very long distances you can still see them as small blobs. As soon as a pedestrian's head popped over a hill, I could see it. From hundreds of yards down the road, when I wouldn't see them with the naked eye until dozens of yards or less. That let me take whatever actions I needed to take to make sure I didn't hit them.

Get closer to the pedestrian, or if they suddenly appear from behind a parked car or similar obstacle, and the GM system puts a big yellow box around them. Plus it alerts you in the head-up display that there's a pedestrian in front of you so you aren't staring at the screen.

Animals don't get a box, but instead, there's an orange warning triangle that appears in the display. Even without the alert, the animal is still a big white blob on the screen that you'll see from long distances.

That's all the theory, anyway, but how did it work? If you think it's going to let you drive blind in the snow or fog, then you're probably out of luck. At night, the roadway and shoulder are about the same temperature, meaning you can't really see where the shoulder is; at least not enough to drive by it with any speed. Modern cars, with exhausts that exit downwards behind the bumper and LED taillights, barely make a blip because there's little heat back there.

But pedestrians and animals and other warm debris can be seen from a long way off. The automated detection works well too, though it's definitely not perfect. For example, it saw a man walking down a trail beside the road, but then missed a woman crossing in front of me with a pair of huskies. Still, I saw them quite clearly on the display and was then able to deal with the situation properly.

The daytime pedestrian detection worked well, though it's a different system, but it's notifications are near useless. A tiny person lights up in amber near the top of the dash. If you can see that light, you're not watching the road, which means you'll still hit the person. And it's near-invisible to peripheral vision. It's much the same as GM's alert for following too closely, another feature I'm not sure increases real-world safety and instead just looks good on a list of features. They fall into the modern pitfall of safety alerts that aren't intuitive and largely can't be learned. A tiny light in the dash, no matter how much time you spend in the vehicle, simply can't become an instant alert to tell you what to do when it lights up. Instead, you need to see the light, look down, realize what it means and then find whatever it is you're being alerted to on the road. At which point the collision has likely already happened.

Though much-touted by the brands as a way to more effectively notify drivers, GM's Safety Alert seat falls into that category as well. Sure, it's great that the seat is shaking, but why is it shaking? Is there a vehicle, a pedestrian, something in front, something behind? Who knows. It's just telling you that you need to do something, but what that something is is now pushed further down the decision tree after "why is my seat shaking, this is very uncomfortable, did I just brake this expensive truck?"

It's why Night Vision is such a better idea for adding to your ability to spot pedestrians and obstacles. The camera view isn't so far below the sightline that you need to take your eyes completely off the road. And the pedestrian or animal is a bright white blob, meaning that you can see almost instantly where it is and which direction it's headed. That lets you respond in time to avoid the potential collision. It's active safety, but more importantly intuitive. There are no superfluous alerts, just the knowledge that you need.

Forget blind spot alerts, self-parking, lane centering, and other driver assistance features like full self driving that aren't full, aren't self, and can't drive (exclude Super Cruise, though, since it only works on highways and watches driver eyeballs). Give more new vehicles a way for the driver to detect pedestrians and cyclists and fewer of the features that let them cruise blissfully on their phones instead of trying to figure out how to let a computer "detect" those pedestrians for them.