Even though we’re initially drawn to new cars by the high-gloss color and seductive curves, the safety features of a vehicle tend to be the biggest selling points for new buyers. These days, safety goes beyond seat belts, rear-view mirrors, anti-lock brakes and front air bags. While these are still critical selling points, new vehicles come with embedded technology that works automatically to make driving safer each time you get behind the wheel. If you’ve ever wondered about what technology is hard at work behind the scenes as you turn the key in the ignition, here are seven vehicle safety features worth knowing about.
1. Backup cameras and sensors
We used to rely on rearview and side mirrors to help us spot traffic in areas that we couldn’t easily see, but now thanks to cameras and sensors placed around our vehicle, we get an even better idea of what’s behind us. Feeds from the vehicle’s backup camera come up on the in-dash display. Color-coded lines provide guidance when parallel parking and let us see what may be hiding just out of view. In addition to the full-color in-dash display, backup sensors beep if you’re getting too close to another object when in reverse.
2. Lane detection systems
Just as cameras and sensors work to alert you to objects behind you, lane detection systems work to monitor the lane markings on the road. When you start to go over the line, lane detection technology alerts you. Beeping or tactile warnings, like vibrating steering wheels or driver seats, provide instantaneous notifications that help you correct your course to prevent collisions.
3. Auto braking
Thanks to front sensors, your vehicle can detect when you’re about to collide with the car in front of you. Auto braking works by automatically applying the brakes to help you avoid a fender bender with the person in front of you.
4. Electronic stability control
Whether driving on tough terrain, around hairpin turns, or in tricky weather conditions, electronic stability control works to maintain control of your car to keep you going in the right direction. It can sense your steering, course correct mid-turn, put the brakes on individual wheels, and even adjust the vehicle’s vertical so you’re less likely to feel the car tip on steep embankments.
5. Re-engineered crumple zones
While not technically a piece of technology, studying how cars crumple on impact has allowed scientists to re-engineer the car’s skeleton to absorb impact at critical points to provide protection to passengers.
6. Park assist
Parallel parking isn’t always easy, but having park assist helps! This handy feature automatically steers your car in and out of parallel parking spaces and into parking bays while you operate the gas pedal and brake. In-vehicle technology works to scan the space around the car to guide it perfectly into place.
7. Voice controls
Voice controls allow you to navigate to your destination, dial a contact in your address book, and take a call without touching your phone. While in park, turn on Bluetooth on your phone and follow the prompts that appear on your car’s in-dash system to pair your cell phone for hands-free use that helps you maintain your focus on the road.
When you head out to look at new cars, look beyond the flashy exterior and ask about how the technology systems above work to make you safer.