When it comes to the best car safety features, we have come a long, long way since the days of seat belts and airbags.
Today, drivers have the added protection of computers, cameras, radars and light detection technology that keep track of our speed, whether we’re staying in our lanes and whether there are people, vehicles and/or objects that we need to watch out for – and stopped traffic ahead that we are about to smash into.
And, just like seat belts and airbags have made us all safer, these new amazing car safety features are proving their mettle as life-savers and car crash avoiders.
In fact, data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) show that the following car safety features have significantly reduced injury-related car crashes and crashes that occur while a vehicle is backing up:
- Forward Collision Warning: Reduces front-to-rear crashes resulting in injuries by 20%.
- Forward Collision Warning Plus Autobrake: Reduces front-to-rear crashes resulting in injuries by 56%.
- Lane Departure Warning: Reduces single-vehicle, sideswipe and head-on crashes resulting in injuries by 21%.
- Blind Spot Detection: Reduces lane-change crashes resulting in injuries by 23%.
- Rear Automatic Braking: Reduces backing crashes by 78% (when combined with rear-view cameras and parking sensors).
- Rear-view Cameras: Reduces backing crashes by 17%.
- Rear Cross-Traffic Alert: Reduces backing crashes by 22%.
(Sources: IIHS-HLDI, “Real-world benefits of crash avoidance technologies,” June 2019)
I’ve been an auto accident attorney for 25 years. I am currently the President of the American Association for Justice’s Distracted Driving Litigation Group, and I’ve spoken around the country on car safety features. Below I will discuss the best car safety features in detail and the ones I recommend.
Michigan Auto Law’s Picks For The 17 Best Car Safety Features
- DriverFocus: One of the newer car safety features to be released, which can be found in the Subaru Forester and Legacy, is designed to prevent drivers from engaging in distracted driving. Using facial recognition technology, the system “watches” the driver for signs of distraction or fatigue and, if present for more than three seconds, alerts the driver. If the driver doesn’t respond, then the system will begin applying the brakes to slow the vehicle until it comes to a stop. Significantly, the facial recognition technology “remembers” who the driver is and knows how his or her face should appear when he or she is paying attention to the road.
- Forward Collision Warning: Through the use of cameras, radar and light detection, this system determines when a vehicle is getting too close to the vehicle in front and, then, it issues a warning to the driver.
- Automatic Emergency Braking: This car safety feature automatically applies the brakes to avoid a collision and/or to ensure a safe following distance.
- Lane Departure Warning: This alerts drivers when they are at risk of driving outside their lane without having activated a turn signal.
- Lane Keeping Assist: Similar to the Lane Departure Warning, this next line of defense actively prevents a driver from departing from his or her lane through automatic steering corrections and/or braking.
- Blind Spot Detection: When another vehicle is approaching in a driver’s blind spot, this feature alerts the driver with a visual or audible warning or, in some cases through automatic braking or steering control.
- Rear Automatic Braking: Just as it sounds, this system automatically applies the brakes to stop a vehicle when it is going to strike or run over an object while driving in reverse.
- Rear-view Cameras: As the name implies, this car safety feature displays for drivers what is behind a vehicle when the driver is attempting to back up or drive in reverse.
- Rear Cross-Traffic Alert: This lets drivers know when there are vehicles approaching – from either side – that may cross behind as the driver is backing up.
- Adaptive Cruise Control: When a driver has put his or her vehicle on “cruise,” the system will automatically adjust the vehicle’s speed up or down to ensure that as traffic speed changes the vehicle remains a safe distance from the vehicle in front of it.
- Pedestrian and Bicyclist Detection: These systems alert drivers to the presence of pedestrians and bicyclists and, where necessary, apply automatic braking to prevent a collision.
- Safety Exit Assist: To prevent rear doors on the vehicle from being opened when there are vehicles, bicycles and/or motorcycles approaching from behind, this feature temporarily locks the doors. This is a must-have for drivers with children.
- Pothole Protection: You are never going to believe this! The Pothole Protection system, which was a feature on the 2018 Ford Fusion, detects when a wheel is dropping into a pothole and it makes adjustments to the shock absorbers to minimize the impact of the pothole. Every car in Michigan should have this. And the state should pay for it!!
- Evasion Aid: This system helps vehicles avoid collisions with slowed or stopped vehicles.
- Large Animal Detection: This car safety feature recognizes moose, deer and other large four-legged animals and activates a vehicle’s brakes where necessary to avoid a crash.
- Evasive Steering: When you’re at an intersection and you’re about to turn left, the system scans the area to ensure the intersection is clear of traffic – especially oncoming vehicles – and makes sure you can safely complete your turn. If not, the system warns the driver and it may even apply the brakes if necessary to prevent a collision.
- Traffic Sign Recognition: This system can recognize and “read” traffic signs – such as speed limit signs – and then display the sign’s information on the driver’s information screen in the dashboard.