Owning a car might afford you a great deal of freedom, but it also comes with a metric ton of responsibility for your own safety and the safety of other road users. Thanks to modern technological developments, being safe is about more than driving well. It also depends upon choosing a car with the right safety features, and as vehicle design continues to develop, an increasing number of extra safety measures will be included in new designs. Of the many add-ons already introduced, these are some of the most effective modern updates around.
Distraction is a huge cause of road accidents, and mobile phones are a prime culprit. For many drivers, especially the young and inexperienced, the lure of a buzzing phone can be difficult to resist, posing one of the most dangerous threats to those behind the wheel. You may need to have the phone switched on for navigation, and there are blockers for these situations – Apple has installed a specific ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature for drivers, which will automatically detect when you are driving and prevent any messages or calls from transmitting.
The humble airbag is one of those safety features drivers should hope they never need, as airbags are usually only deployed in a serious crash, but new car models tend to feature more responsive models.
Despite some models having been recalled over the past decade, a recent report revealed Gen Y drivers still consider them one of the most important safety features in cars.
Your seatbelt is more than a strip of fabric. It’s one of the most crucial measures of protection in your car, given that almost one in five on-road injuries and deaths happen because drivers or passengers were not wearing their belt. In most cars, seatbelts feature pre-tensioner technology which helps to minimize and protect the wearer from the force of impact in the event of an accident.
Adaptive cruise control
Having to constantly check the speedometer for those incremental changes can be tiring, especially on long journeys, so this feature is ideal for habitual highway users. As an added bonus, the ability to set a constant speed could save more than a few speeding tickets, especially for those prone to gradually speeding up without noticing.
If you’ve ever found yourself drifting in your lane on a long drive, lane technology could be the safety net you need. Some new models come with a lane-departure warning if your car moves into another lane without an indicator, and then introduce lane-keeping assist to straighten up your steering wheel for you. These forward-thinking updates are poised to help out when your shoulder check isn’t quite thorough enough – the only danger is becoming over-reliant on the alerts for safety.
Auto emergency braking
The importance of maintaining a safe stopping distance from the car in front of you can’t be understated, but for those split-second situations, the auto emergency brake (AEB) feature could make all the difference.
AEB is designed to alert drivers to obstacles in the path of the car using sensors and activate maximum braking capacity if necessary to help you avoid a crash in the nick of time. Most of these systems are also capable of stopping the vehicle without human intervention, so if your reaction time isn’t quite what it could be, this is the perfect fall-back feature for your car.
Sensory alarms and cameras
Sensors in the front of your car are an essential part of the AEB feature, but they’re also extremely helpful when it comes to reversing. Performing any kind of backward maneuver in a car typically requires great concentration, and without great care, accidents become much more likely. Cameras and sensors would make detection far easier, especially in blind spots. Modern systems currently employed on higher-end models even include 360-degree views around the car. The blind spot warning feature in some car models uses radars or cameras to alert the driver to any cars in the adjacent lanes before turning.
Electronic stability control
Electronic stability control is hardly new, as it was made a standard feature on all cars made in 2012 or later, but it’s still one of the most important modern safety measures to have been implemented. ESC is designed to prevent sliding or skidding on a slippery or uneven road surface by automatically applying the brakes to individual wheels. This is especially important for larger vehicles, which could be at risk of rolling over when turning.
Anything designed to combat distractions on the road can’t be a bad thing, even something as small as needing to switch on your headlights as the sun goes down. Many new vehicle models have the capability of automatically turning the lights on or off as needed, which means you’ll have one less thing to think about while you’re driving.
The air in your tires might be one of those things you don’t think about until it’s looking worse for wear, and that’s where this new feature can help. A pressure monitor will issue a warning when a tire is getting low so that you can fill up before the under-inflation leads to extra damage or a blowout, so you don’t have to rely on visual judgment alone.
Modern technology can help or hinder drivers in the pursuit of safety, but new technology is making it possible to account for human error in unprecedented ways. As long as modern developments don’t overtake the need for careful driving, futuristic technology could significantly reduce fatality and injury on the road and accelerate safety in the right direction.