You’ve heard all the talk about driverless cars. Yet we’re still years away from living in a world where you can just tell your car where to go and then kick back and relax with a book or your phone.
Even still, technology already plays a big role in the way we drive. Nowhere is that more apparent than with the new features that make today’s cars safer than ever. That’s especially good news considering that drivers aren’t necessarily safer these days. In fact, 2015 came with the largest increase in traffic fatalities since 1966 – 7.2 percent more in 2015 than 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
So, when you’re shopping for a new (or new-to-you) car, look for one that has some or all of these vehicle safety features. They might even help you save on your car insurance!
- Forward collision warning: Sensors in the front of the vehicle will warn you of an impending collision, giving you a chance to brake or steer clear.
- Automatic emergency braking: Working with forward collision warning sensors, this will automatically apply the brakes to avoid a collision.
- Lane-departure warning: This uses cameras to keep track of your car’s position on the roadway. If you begin to drift from your lane unintentionally, an alarm notifies you.
- Lane-keeping support: Steers your vehicle back into the lane if you do begin to drift.
- Backup camera: Allows you to see behind the vehicle. These cameras, which are becoming more and more common, automatically activate when the car shifts into reverse.
- Electronic stability control: Helps you keep control in slippery conditions and on curves. According to the NHTSA, it reduces the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by about 50 percent and a fatal rollover by 80 percent.
- Blind-spot detection: Illuminates when another vehicle is in either blind spot.
- Adaptive headlights: Shift as you take curves to help you see better.
- Pedestrian automatic emergency braking: Alerts you if someone is in your path and automatically applies the brakes.
- Automatic crash notification: Notifies emergency responders in the event of a crash.
Keep in mind that these features may help improve safety but improper use won't guarantee your safe arrival. Be sure you understand how your car's safety features operate by reading your owners manual before driving the vehicle. In short, no matter how many bells and whistles your car has, they aren't a substitute for good driving habits. You still need to buckle up, stay alert, mind the speed limit, avoid distractions, drive for the weather conditions, etc.
Finally, don’t forget the now-commonplace features, such as air bags and anti-lock brakes, as well as things that have little to do with technology but still have a big impact on safety. This can include size and weight, structure and restraint systems, and NHTSA car safety ratings. Compare cars you’re considering online with the help of NHTSA.
Happy car shopping!