The Best Car Safety Features
By Kimberly Graf. Published on March 18, 2022
Recently, it's become commonplace to have a laundry list of safety features in your car at purchase. Rear cameras will be the standard in all vehicles. But how many of these newer features are actually needed?
The short answer is, all of them. It may seem like a lot of frills for people who have been driving for a long time, but these things really do improve your quality of life and, when used correctly, can decrease car accidents. We've put together a list of the best features, in case you're looking to upgrade to a safer car.
Tire Pressure Monitors
A low tire pressure can very much hurt both your fuel economy and the way your car drives overall. These sensors will alert you when the pressure in one of your tires is low, as well as alerting you to which tire it is that needs the air. These have been integrated in some models for years now, and help tremendously in the same way that a low fuel light or a low oil light does.
If you aren't over-attentive to your car, you might not even know when you have a tire that's low on pressure. That's where these sensors come in.
Basically, there is a camera mounted on the back of the car that feeds video into a monitor inside, either on your sun visor or on your panel. Instead of having to turn around to back the car up, you can watch this camera to see what's behind you. It also gives you a fairly good idea of what might be coming, due to its 180-degree viewing range.
If you drive a bigger car or have problems seeing behind you, this is a very useful tool. It's also useful in situations where you might not be able to see out your rear window, such as when you're hauling more than you normally do or the weather is particularly bad.
When used in conjunction with another safety feature that alerts you when there's something close to your car as you back up, this can become invaluable.
Electronic Stability Control
This is one of those things that we just can't wait to try out. Some newer cars already have systems like this. Basically, if you happen to lose control of your car, the ESC controls take over and work specific sets of brakes to make sure that your car remains stable and on the road. This may also include slight steering inputs that take the guesswork out of keeping your car on the road in a bad situation.
It might be unnerving to people who have been driving cars without these systems. It will take some getting used to, that's for certain, but in the case of something terrible happening, it'll be really useful to have the car take control and right itself.
Seat Belt Pretensioners
These have been around for a while and they're still just as useful as ever. When the driver steps on the brakes, all safety belts lock into place and leave no slack. This prevents you from being pitched forward in the event of a crash. You may end up with more bruises if there is an accident, but it will prevent you from getting more serious injuries in general.
At least, that's the idea. This technology has been in use for a while now, and it's still very useful in preventing fatalities during accidents if everyone in the car is buckled in.
Not so long ago, braking hard could cause your wheels to lock up, which would completely prevent you from being able to steer. That was before the advent of antilock brakes. The ABS system that is now standard on most vehicles prevents this from happening. It uses computer readings on each individual wheel to allow the driver to remain in control of the vehicle after a hard, emergency brake.
While it's been standard for a while now, it's still a completely invaluable tool to prevent loss of control while trying to stop a crash.
Another thing that might seem odd if you have driven only older cars is the lane-keeping assistant features. These range anywhere from signaling you with a loud noise to vibrating the steering wheel when you cross over into another lane without using your turn signal first.
Some cars even come with a slight steering assistance system to help you get back into your lane gently if you happen to wander out of it. This is surely a useful tool for long trips when you might have trouble staying awake while driving. It may give you the incentive to pull over when you need to.
Telematic Roadside Systems
These have been around for quite some time as well, but they are not mostly standard in newer vehicles. Services such as OnStar (the most popular) help with both roadside assistance and GPS issues. Some car companies now have their own version.
You can press a button and get help finding your way back to civilization, the nearest gas station, and get help in the event of a flat tire. They will connect you with a real person to help you out of situations that aren't very fun to be in. It might cost a small subscription fee, but overall It's a very helpful safety tool.