Certain things can happen when you’re behind the wheel that you might not have control over. For example, other drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or who are speeding. Speeding is the main cause of traffic accidents, but beyond the things you can’t control, what about the things you can control?
You can control your own behaviors behind the wheel by watching your speed and avoiding distractions such as cell phone use.
You can also choose a vehicle that has advanced safety features. Some of the most innovative safety features can go a long way in helping keep you and others safe behind the wheel.
The following are important things to know about advanced safety features in vehicles, and some of the vehicles that are known for having the best safety-related additions.
Adaptive Cruise Control
Adaptive cruise control or ACC is a “smart” form of cruise control. It can help you if you have a heavy foot and it slows down and speeds up as necessary to keep up with the car in front of you. As with traditional cruise control, the driver sets their maximum speed.
Then, there’s a radar sensor that monitors the traffic ahead. When you have this feature, your car will stay several seconds behind the car in front of you.
This safety feature works especially well if you’re in a lot of stop-and-go traffic.
Lane Centering Assist
Lane centering assist is part of autonomous driving technology, but it’s included in some form in many new car designs. Lane departure warning alerts can let you know if you’re drifting out of your lane so you can move back into it.
There are different versions of this type of technology, such as one that can, as the name above implies, keep your car centered proactively.
All of the different lane departure warning systems use a camera that’s mounted near the rearview mirror. It watches the lane markings of the road ahead.
Blind Spot Warning
Blindspot warning systems use a combination of cameras and radars or ultrasonic sensors to detect vehicles that are next to yours or behind yours that you can’t see. If there is a vehicle detected in that area, you’ll get a visual warning.
If you activate your turn signal, some forms of blind-spot warning systems will give you a warning you can not only hear but also feel, such as a shaking steering wheel.
There’s also something called a blind-spot warning with automatic emergency steering. This feature will automatically steer and brake when the turn signal is activated if there is a vehicle in the blind spot and a lane-change is happening.
Forward Collision Warning
A forward-collision warning system works to monitor the speed of a vehicle and the vehicle in front of it and the distance between the vehicles. It’s similar in some ways to adaptive cruise control, at least as far as monitoring the vehicle in front of yours.
If you get to close to the vehicle in front of you, you are warned of an impending crash.
Automatic Emergency Braking
If your car has automatic emergency braking and there’s a collision that could happen, and the vehicle technology senses it, the car will brake on its own if the driver doesn’t react quickly enough.
Some systems will only use part of the braking power, so the driver still needs to do the full brake.
According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), rear-end collisions go down by 50% on vehicles with AEB as well as forward collision warning.
Rear Cross-Traffic Warning Systems
With vehicles that have a rear cross-traffic warning system, there may be static lines that show you how close your car is to other objects when you’re backing up or there may be dynamic guides on the screen that shift as you move your steering wheel.
Some cars have this feature with a full top-down view of the car as well, and this technology may be paired with automatic braking detection.
Are Consumers Willing to Pay Extra for Safety Features?
Consumer Reports conducted a survey to see if drivers were willing to pay more for safety features such as automatic emergency braking.
Many carmakers, including makers of moderately-priced vehicles, are adding these systems into their vehicles, but they are still also charging extra for them in some cases. Car companies like Toyota and Tesla put these features in almost all of their 2019 models, but then if you look at a company like General Motors, not a single 2019 model they make had AEB.
In the Consumer Reports survey, one in five respondents said they didn’t specifically try to get AEB in their cars. However, almost 42% of those car owners said AEB prevented an accident.
Some car owners said they initially saw that feature and others like it as an expensive, unnecessary feature, but quickly realized it could potentially save their life.
Consumer Reports and other groups have taken to making the push for more of these safety features and systems to be added to new models.
Around 48% of new model cars had standard AEB in 2019, up from 29% in 2018. By September 2022, twenty major carmakers have said they will include AEB and FCW in almost every new vehicle they sell.
This is part of an agreement that was worked out between car companies and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Consumer Reports has vowed to monitor car companies’ progress.
Manufacturers that are currently seen as leaders as far as making features like FCW and AEB standard in most of their new vehicles include Acura, Audi, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, and Volvo.
According to Toyota representatives, the features have actually been a good selling point for them.
If you’re in the auto industry or you’re in the market for a new vehicle, it’s impossible to overlook the importance of safety technology.