5 Must-Have Safety Features for Your Next Car

budds safetySafety is the top concern for many car buyers, and rightly so. When those most precious to you are riding in a car or truck you want to know they’ll be taken care of.

Here’s a look at some safety technologies we all take for granted, and five more worth having on your next car.

But first, let’s talk about safety

Measured by kilometres driven, death and injury rates have fallen steadily for decades.

Much of this drop is due to safety features that car manufacturers have been adding since the 1950s and ’60s. Things like safety belts, airbags, crumple zones and padded interior surfaces have gone from novelties to standard equipment.

That means that—combined with other improvements to road design, signage, and driver education—we’re now safer than ever.

That’s good, but there’s always room for improvement.

Enter the concept of “accident avoidance”

Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) were the first step towards trying to keep drivers out of accidents altogether, instead of just helping them when accidents happened. By preventing the wheels from locking, ABS gave drivers the ability to steer away from trouble rather than sliding into it.

The technology emerged during the 1980s, and today it’s standard equipment. (You’ve probably experienced the pulsing of the brake pedal that indicates it’s actively working.)

Since the 80s ABS have evolved into Traction Control Systems (TCS). These use the same wheel speed measurement technology to control and prevent skids.

The safety features of today

budds safetyIn the last few years, vehicle manufacturers have found more ways to add accident avoidance capabilities.

Here are five technologies we suggest you look for.

1. Adaptive cruise control

Cruise control isn’t new, but adaptive cruise technology makes it better.

Here’s how it works: sensors measure the distance to the car in front, and a controller adjusts your speed to stop that gap from getting too small.

It’s especially useful when someone pulls into the gap you’ve sensibly left. Rather than you having to cancel out of cruise, this technology automatically slows your car until the gap is back to a safe distance.

2. Forward collision alert/automatic emergency braking

Once you have gap-measuring sensors, it’s a small step to sounding an alarm if you’re closing that gap too quickly. This is what’s called forward collision alert.

An extension of this technology is called automatic emergency braking (AEB). With this, if the car decides you’re running out of time to start braking, it will do it for you. It’s a fantastic technology for avoiding rear-end impacts.

3. Blind spot detection

We were all taught to look over our shoulder before changing lanes, but when you’re in heavy traffic on the QEW you don’t want to take your eyes off what’s ahead.

This is when blind spot detection (Chevy calls it “Side Blind Zone Alert”) really helps. Sensors monitor the space each side of your car. If another vehicle comes close a warning icon illuminates in the door mirror.

Once you’ve experienced this you’ll never want to be without it.

4. Lane departure warning/lane keep assist

You’re tired after a long day; your mind wanders. And before you know it your car is straddling the white line.

This is what lane departure warning is for. Sensors constantly check where you are relative to the lane markings. If they detect that you’re drifting they’ll send a warning signal. (Many cars vibrate the steering wheel, others give the seat a little shake.)

More advanced assistance systems apply a correction to bring you safely back between the lines.

5. Adaptive headlights

Few people enjoy driving at night. It’s not so bad if you can put the high beams on, but you can’t do that if there’s oncoming traffic.

The idea behind adaptive headlights? They’ll do it for you by switching from high to low beam as soon as an approaching car is detected. Once that car has passed they’ll switch back to bright. The most sophisticated add the second trick: they’ll turn slightly to help improve your view around a bend. Now that’s almost science fiction!

Try these safety features for yourself

Modern cars are far safer than even those from just a few years ago, but there’s always room to do better. New cars come with an impressive array of standard safety equipment, and yet more are available in special option packages.

If you’re interested in learning how a new car can help keep you safe, come and talk to us. We’ll show you all the latest technologies—and maybe even help you drive home safer.