The AutoNsider: Exploring the Latest Vehicle Safety Features

Close up shot of a modern car electronic safety systems
Photo credit Getty

My wife and I have found ourselves in the unenviable position of recognizing that our baby girl is no longer a "baby." Along with her sixteenth birthday fast approaching comes the conversation of whether she will get her own transportation and, if so, how do we decide on what car/SUV to choose. With all the options available, what will be most important for her safety and "her image"? What, did you think that my wife and I were the only ones making the decision?

In recent years, vehicle safety features have evolved significantly to enhance driver and passenger protection. This is my overview of the latest vehicle safety features, and I have ranked them in order of importance as I see them for my new driver. Additionally, while I am not making recommendations regarding specific vehicles, I recommend specific model years for the most safety features available as standard equipment.

Latest Vehicle Safety Features (ranked by importance):

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB): AEB systems use sensors and cameras to detect imminent collisions and automatically apply the brakes to prevent or reduce the severity of accidents. Look for vehicles with forward collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection for maximum safety.

Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA): LDW alerts drivers when their vehicle drifts out of its lane. LKA provides corrective steering assistance, allowing drivers to stay on course without taking their eyes off the road. Together, these features help prevent unintended lane departures and reduce the risk of collisions caused by driver distraction or drowsiness.

Blind Spot Detection (BSD) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA): BSD uses sensors to detect vehicles in the driver's blind spots and provides visual or audible warnings, helping to avoid lane-change collisions. RCTA warns drivers of approaching vehicles when reversing, mitigating accidents while backing out of parking spaces.

Smartphone Integration (Apple CarPlay/Android Auto): Integration capabilities through Bluetooth technology and platforms like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow for wireless connectivity between the vehicle's audio system and a smartphone, enabling hands-free calling and audio streaming. Additionally, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto seamlessly integrate smartphones with the vehicle's infotainment system.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC): ACC maintains a set speed while automatically adjusting to the traffic flow. It uses sensors to monitor the distance to the vehicle ahead, allowing it to maintain a safe following distance and reduce the need for constant speed adjustments.

Rearview Camera: A rearview camera enhances visibility when reversing, reducing the risk of accidents caused by blind spots. Look for vehicles with dynamic guidelines and wide-angle lenses for better maneuverability.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS): TPMS constantly monitors tire pressure and alerts the driver when tire pressure is low. Maintaining proper tire pressure improves vehicle handling and fuel efficiency and reduces the risk of blowouts.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC): ESC detects and corrects loss of traction or skidding, helping to maintain vehicle stability during emergency maneuvers. It significantly reduces the risk of rollovers and other accidents caused by loss of control.

All-Wheel Drive (AWD): AWD distributes power to all four wheels, allowing for better traction and grip on slippery or uneven surfaces such as snow, ice, gravel, or wet roads. This enhanced traction helps the vehicle maintain stability and control, reducing the risk of skidding or spinning out.

To maximize the availability of safety features as standard equipment, consider vehicles from the past few years, specifically model years 2020 and onwards. Automakers have been progressively integrating advanced safety features into their cars, and newer models are more likely to offer a wider range of standard safety technologies.

The latest vehicle safety features prioritize accident prevention and occupant protection. When considering a vehicle purchase, focus on features like Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control, Rearview Camera, Tire Pressure Monitoring, and Electronic Stability Control. Look into vehicles from the model year 2020 and newer for the most comprehensive safety features as standard equipment. Always consult the vehicle manufacturer's specifications for accurate and up-to-date information on safety features. It would be best if you often opted for higher trim levels to get the latest and greatest safety technology.

The good news about this exercise is that most automakers include most of these features as standard equipment, so if your family is like mine, the difficult part will be finding a black-on-black, fuel-efficient (maybe Hybrid), mean-looking car/SUV under $30k.

See how your choices match my list: Follow this link to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's NHTSA - Tech In Your Car website and enter your vehicle's information.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty