New technology typically appears on higher-end vehicles first. Of course the trickle-down effect occurs over time as its benefits are proved effective. For example, air bags were once only in the most expensive cars and now they are in every
car. Today’s new cars have as many as ten air bags per vehicle.
Here's a rundown of the latest safety features to consider the next time you're shopping for the vehicle you can afford.
1. Lane departure warning systems
are designed to help prevent head-on collisions and other catastrophes. Cameras or other sensors, such as radar or infrared, are placed around the vehicle to determine its relative position in the lane. If you leave your lane, a light flashes and a high-pitched beep sounds. Some models have a vibrating steering wheel to alert you.
2. Enhanced visibility found in s
ome luxury vehicles offer infrared night vision that can alert you to obstacles that lurk beyond the reach of your headlights. Others employ adaptive headlights, which shift as you're turning, helping you see around curves.
3. Rearview camera is a
tiny camera mounted on the back of the vehicle transmits an image to your dashboard or rearview mirror, making it easier to see people or objects behind you. Once limited to luxury models, it's becoming a popular option on mid-range cars.
4. Reverse backup sensors are o
perational with or without a camera; this equipment helps alert you if you're about to collide with something. The closer you get to something as you reverse, the more frequent the beeps get.
5. Automatic braking
actually brakes the car to prevent a collision or lessen the impact from whatever is in front of you.
6. Forward collision avoidance system,
also called a pre-crash warning system, is often combined with automatic braking. The system warns drivers if they're about to run into something. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that as many as 1.2 million crashes could be stopped or mitigated each year if all vehicles had this feature.
7. Sideview assist helps
when a car is in your blind spot, sensors on the rear bumper can alert you with a light in your side mirror. Some systems warn you with a beep if you engage your turn signal.
8. Parking assist –
if you hate parallel parking, this one's for you! An increasing number of models offer a feature that detects the size of the parking space, guides you into the starting position, and then allows you to completely take your hands off the wheel while the computer backs the vehicle into place.
9. Electronic stability control has been a
round for several years, helping to correct a swerving vehicle by applying brakes on individual wheels, giving drivers a chance to regain control. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says this technology reduces single vehicle fatal crashes by nearly 50% and this extra control is a required standard feature on all models 2012 and later.
10. Air bag systems,
you might think they're old news, but they actually get more high-tech every year. Since late 2006, all passenger vehicles have been made with Advanced Frontal Airbag systems, which can automatically detect the size and position of the passenger and the severity of the crash and can use that information to vary the force with which the air bags inflate. Most newer cars also come with side-impact air bags, though only some cars offer them in the rear seats. Increasingly, automakers are offering innovative air bag technologies in different areas of the vehicle, such as Ford's inflatable seatbelts, and Scion's rear-window air bag.
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