By Alex Perdikis
Driving is so much a part of everyday life you probably don’t give it a second thought. But, every time you hop in your car, you risk your life and those of your passengers. And, if your family includes young or senior drivers, you have even more to worry about. The good news is that there are exciting new car safety innovations that make that trip to the store safer for everyone. Here are five safety features either already available or coming soon to new car near you.
Forward Collision Warning
Consumer Reports puts forward collision warning systems at the top of its list of must-have safety features. Why? Because forward collision warnings save countless lives.
The systems not only help drivers avoid accidents, but they lessen the impact when accidents do occur. Basic systems send audible or steering wheel vibration alerts to drivers, letting them know they’re closing in too fast on the vehicle in front of them.
A higher end option, forward collision warning with auto-braking systems, do more than alert. If you fail to react after the audible alert, the system auto-brakes to avoid a crash.
Features like forward collision warning systems are typically optional and somewhat pricey. However, Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com executive editor, says that “Among all the active-safety features out there — blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning, lane departure prevention — this is the one that matters most.”
By May 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will require car manufacturers to make backup cameras standard. Many automakers are already on the bandwagon, however. And, that’s a very good thing. The Center for Effective Government reports that annually 50 children under the age of 15 are injured or killed because of back-over collisions with vehicles. Backup cameras, also known as rearview cameras, provide an instant view of what is directly behind the car. If you’re purchasing a new car before cameras become standardized and you have children, they’re worth the extra money.
Lane monitoring and departure warning systems are a great feature if you do a lot of highway driving. Depending on the car make and model, systems range from basic with flashing lights, vibrations or alarm sounds when your car drifts, to more advanced systems that automatically correct steering or apply the brakes.
Blind Spot Detection
You now have a weapon against the infamous blind spot – the cause of countless accidents, injuries and deaths. A simple but effective tool, the blind spot safety alarm appears in your side view mirror as a flashing light whenever a vehicle, motorcycle, pedestrian or bicyclist is in your blind spot. Typically bundled with rear-cross traffic alerts, blind spot detection systems provide an additional layer of safety.
Those long road trips, late night drives and slow-moving bumper-to-bumper traffic have one thing in common – they make it easy for you to fall asleep at the wheel. Alertness monitoring detects erratic driving, such as drifting or sudden deceleration, and emits a loud acoustical warning that will wake you up in no time.
Other exciting safety features available now or coming soon include adaptive cruise control and park assist. Many will become standard over time. For now, weigh your driving situation and choose the options that best fit your needs and budget.