Cruise control, anti-locks brakes and even seat belts were once considered high-tech for cars. Auto manufacturers have always looked for ways to keep drivers, passengers and other people safer when on the road. Today these features, along with tire pressure monitoring and air bags, are standard features on most cars. Your car often has some of the most cutting-edge technologies on the market.
The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) identifies eight tech features that are not standard, but can greatly reduce your risk of an accident and protect the ones in your car:
- Lane-Keep Assist or Lane Departure Warning Systems– This feature detects when you leave the lane on the road. Some systems will steer you back into the lane.
- Electronic Stability Control– With this technology, your vehicle detects when the wheels lose traction or when you’re entering a turn and need to slow an individual wheel to maintain stability.
- Adaptive Cruise Control– Cruise control is a popular standard feature, but this technology takes it to another level. The car monitors the speed and distance between the vehicle ahead of you and automatically adapts to driver-set limitations.
- Adaptive Headlights– According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, adaptive headlights has reduced accidents by 10 percent. With this technology, your headlights turn as your steering wheel turns. If you’re coming around a curve at night, this helps you see much better.
- Forward Collision Systems or Collision Warning System– If you glance away for a second and traffic slows in front of you, with this safety feature, your car automatically adjusts to prevent or at least greatly reduce the severity of an accident. Your car also alerts you to the possibility of an accident.
- Active Park Assist– Parallel parking is no longer a problem with this technology that basically parks your car without any assistance from the driver.
- 360-Degree Camera– Having the ability to see all-around your vehicle while you’re parking or backing up has the potential to prevent many accidents. On a dark or rainy night, it could be particularly useful.
- Drowsiness Alert– Your car uses technology and information about the time you’ve spent driving to determine how fatigued the driver might be. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016, drowsiness took 803 lives. While that figure may be low, it’s 803 people who didn’t have to die on the road. You’ll get an alert that tells you it’s time for a break.
The National Safety Council and University of Iowa lists dozens of safety technologies on the website Mycardoeswhat.org that are being added to cars. Many of these features are not standard yet; they’re simply being tested and researched:
- High Speed Alert– Using GPS to obtain the car’s position and databases that access the speed limit, this feature can alert you when you’re speeding. Advanced versions of this feature may even be able to slow your car automatically, but you would be able to override it.
- Blind Spot Monitor– This monitor does exactly what it says, provides a warning when a car is in your blind spot. It can also alert you when you turn on your turn signal and there is a car next to you. This feature may not recognize a motorcycle, which is a current limitation. Some vehicles are adding side view cameras to give you an expanded view of your surroundings.
- Automatic Emergency Braking Systems– These systems use radar to detect impending crashes. When your car gets too close to another vehicle, it may send an alarm to alert you or the system may automatically apply brakes to prevent the impact or at least reduce the damage. Some systems can even supplement the driver’s actions to prevent a crash. If you don’t brake hard enough, the system can override your actions and brake harder for you.
Know Your Vehicle
If you’re buying a new car or driving a new vehicle, make sure to read the owner’s manual to understand what safety features your car comes with. Know the limitations of the safety features. For example, adaptive cruise control may simply slow your car down, but it may not prevent an accident without your intervention because the car won’t come to a complete stop.
The cars of today are safer than ever due to technological advances that were once just dreams of past generations. It’s hoped that these safety features will drop fatality rates and make everyone safer on the road. But even the best technology won’t prevent accidents if you drive distracted and without paying attention to your surroundings. Use safety features as added protection when you’re on the road.
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