If you’re in the market for a new car and you can afford a fully-loaded top-end model with all the bells and whistles, that’s great. But for the average Joe (or Jane), the price is a consideration and it’s difficult to sift through all the jargon car salesmen confuse you with. So, what are the essential safety features in cars that prevent accidents? Which new auto technologies are pure gimmicks and which ones save lives? Here are some essential safety features your car should have.
Even the least expensive cars these days have at least two front airbags. In the event of high-speed or high-impact collisions, airbags are only second to seat belts in saving the lives of front seat passengers. The latest auto technologies include airbags that deploy on the windscreen of the car to protect a pedestrian who may get hit while crossing the street.
A dashboard display of what’s behind the vehicle comes on as soon as you put your car in reverse. Some back-up cameras include trajectory lines and distance readings to help you navigate, but more importantly, this technology prevents you from inadvertently running someone over (there have been instances when a parent backed up a large SUV over their own toddler in their own driveway). The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) will make back-up cameras compulsory in all vehicles by 2018.
Fatigue Detection Systems
Drivers drifting off to speed are a danger to themselves as well as others on the road. New car technologies detect erratic driving, such as sudden deceleration or drifting, and warn the driver with an audio or visual alert. This safety feature is especially important for people who spend long hours on the road alone, such as truck drivers. More expensive models in passenger cars are able to profile a driver’s normal driving patterns and quickly detect any deviation from the baseline, even factoring in external factors such as road surface and crosswinds.
Parents of teen drivers can rest a little easier when their young driver heads out of the door with car keys in hand. Parental control technology for safety in automobiles allows parents to place limits on the vehicle’s speed and audio volume. The system can also be programmed to sound a continuous alarm if seat belts remain unfastened after the vehicle begins moving. GPS vehicle tracking allows parents to track the vehicle in real time.
Blind Spot Detector
If you’ve ever started to switch lanes but jerked back into your lane because a car was in your blind spot, you’ll know the value of a new technology called blind spot detector. This feature sets off an audio or visual alert if there’s a car in the driver’s blind spot. Some systems can also detect bicycles and pedestrians outside the driver’s field of vision.