There’s a lot to think about when buying a new car – horsepower, gas mileage, space and, of course, safety. With distracted and reckless driving behavior on the rise, it’s becoming more and more important to invest in the most reliable car possible. New car safety features like blind spot monitoring and lane keeping assist are rising quickly in the automotive industry. And consumers can expect to find even more advanced driver safety functions in the future. Check out our list to discover some of the most popular and useful new car safety features on the market.
The best new car safety features
The integrated steering wheel
Perhaps one of the simplest changes in newer car models is the fully integrated steering wheel. In an effort to keep drivers hands-free, steering wheels have been redesigned with control shortcuts to some of the most widely used car systems. Most drivers can change the radio station, control the volume, switch on (and off) the cruise control, pick up and end phone calls, and more, all from the buttons on their steering wheel. While it’s a small change, it makes a big difference in the driving experience. As a standard on newer car models, this is one make or break feature for those in the market for a new car.
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While operating in-car systems without taking your hands off the wheel has become much easier, there are still times when a driver has to reach over and fiddle with controls. But some car manufacturers have taken the hands-free mantra one step further. Ford’s SYNC technology has introduced voice-activated controls for the radio, climate and even navigation systems. And while this isn’t a standard (yet), all signs show that the automotive industry is headed in that direction. Consumers should expect to talk to their cars a lot more in the future and it could prove really useful.
The lane monitoring safety feature has been popping up on more car models each year. Using road markings for reference, these systems will be able to detect if a driver is drifting into a new lane without a turn signal. Then, depending on the car make and model, the driver will be alerted with a chime, flashing light or vibration. Some systems will even step in with corrective steering or braking. More complex systems like the one in the Infiniti Q50S, use a hands-free lane keeping system that can even slow and stop with the flow of traffic. But this is a moot option if you live in areas with a lot of backroads. Most systems still have trouble reading country and suburban lines. Lane keeping assist is one of the new car safety features best left for drivers who often use highways.
Paired with lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring can make traveling traffic-heavy highways and major roads much safer. The systems use sensors to detect when there is a car in your blind spot and then alert you with a visual or audible warning. And some more advanced systems take it even further, showing what’s in your blind spot using camera footage. This feature is likely to become standard on all vehicles in the future. If you drive a big truck or SUV, blind spot monitoring is something you’ll want to look into for your next car.
Rearview cameras are already on most newer car models (without any additional cost). So, if you’re in the market for a new car, be certain one is included. Drivers can see live footage of what’s behind their car on the dashboard, making this system perfect for navigating parking lots, pulling out of driveways and other situations where it’s easy to accidentally hit something (or someone). According to Nerd Wallet, federal rules will actually require backup cameras on all new vehicles starting in 2018.
Forward collision warning with automatic braking
Rear-end crashes are the most common type of crash in the U.S., which explains why this next safety feature was developed. Using front-facing sensors, this system is designed to scan the road ahead and alert drivers of an imminent crash. However, while the forward collision system can sense danger, it won’t help you avoid it. That’s why this safety feature is often paired with automatic braking. While some crash prevention systems will only provide a warning and prepare the brakes for full stopping power, others apply the brakes automatically to prevent a crash. This safety feature combination just might be the reason your next zone-out moment isn’t fatal. If your budget only allows for one add-on, crash mitigation should be a major contender.
While there are plenty of other new car safety features on the market, the ones listed above are arguably some of the most useful. However, adding additional systems and perks to your car can get expensive and ultimately, your budget will determine which ones you buy (if any at all). So, when making decisions, try to consider your driving environment. Which safety feature will benefit your lifestyle most?
While figuring out which new car safety features are must-haves can be difficult, actually finding a car is arguably even more so. Searches can be long and tedious, and narrowing down your options can feel impossible. To cut down on some of the stress, AAA’s car buying service can help you save money, locate certified dealers, and provide access to transparent pricing.
Plan on buying a new car? What are some of your deal or no deal new car safety features? Tell us in the comments.