Standard Safety Features
Most cars come with standard safety features. Make sure whatever car you buy has these necessary features.
Anti-Lock Brake Systems (ABS)
ABS prevents the wheels from locking up during hard braking. When the wheels lock up, a driver is unable to control where the vehicle goes. ABS are sensors that are on each wheel and communicate to a computer to allow maximum braking while still allowing the driver to steer. Here’s a video showing what an anti-lock brake system does and why it is such an important feature to have:
Automatic Seat Belts
Automatic seat belts are seat belts that come on as soon as a passenger sits in the vehicle. They are usually activated when the door closes. They ensure that everyone in the car is wearing their seatbelt, but it typically does not automatically secure someone with the lap belt. That must be done manually and if someone does not secure the lap belt, you are almost in as much risk as not wearing a seatbelt at all. These automatic seat belts became popular in the 80’s and 90’s when government regulations required vehicles to have a “passive restraint system” in place. Air bags have replaced these automatic seat belts in newer vehicles. Here is a video showing how this type of seatbelt operates. If it looks like a terrible idea, you share the same thoughts of many!
Driver And Side Airbags
Airbags provide cushioning against the force of a collision and have proven to vastly improve driver and passenger safety in the event of a crash. Airbags are connected to sensors that will trigger the airbags in the event of a crash, inflating them in milliseconds. The use of airbags has been proven to reduce trauma and injury during accidents, but they are designed to be used in conjunction with typical seatbelt restraints. All new vehicles in the United States must have at least a driver side front airbag, but side airbags and airbags for passengers are becoming equally as important. In the below video, you will see how amazing airbags have really become.
Rear defrost removes the condensation on the back window. Most vehicles with rear defrost have small electronic heating strips that go across the rear window. The heat generated from those heating strips will remove condensation, ice, snow, etc. It is especially important to have a working rear defrost if you live in a colder climate, so make sure you check this feature on any new vehicle you might purchase. Here is a video showing other ways you can keep your vehicle windows from fogging up.
Front Wheel Drive
Front wheel drive is a type car that has a transmission that powers the front wheels instead of the rear. Front wheel drive vehicles are easier to drive and they increase traction so there is easier accelerating and braking. Studies have shown that front wheel drive vehicles help you reduce your chances of getting into an accident, especially when driving in snowy or icy conditions.
Premium Safety Features
Beyond the standard safety features, there are now a number of premium, technologically advanced safety features available on newer model cars. These features can cost a bit more than standard safety features, but they are worth the investment especially for newer drivers. Some of the more common premium safety features include:
Electronic Stability Control
Electronic stability control reduces the loss of steering control when a vehicle has lost traction. It uses a sensor that works to detect loss of traction and then compensates for the loss of traction. This is a great feature for when driving in poor weather or road conditions.
Heated Side Mirrors
Heated side mirrors reduce the condensation on the side mirrors as well has helping to remove snow and ice. This helps increase visibility, especially of the rear view and blind spots. Don’t have the money to buy heated mirrors? Here’s a video showing how to make your own!
A back up camera is a camera that is mounted on the rear of a car and connected to a screen in the dashboard. Backup cameras let you see what is behind you when backing up. This reduces collisions during parking. This feature is especially useful with vehicles like SUVs that have lower rear visibility. Here is a video on how to build your own backup camera for about $100.
Traction control works to limit how much a wheel spins during acceleration. It also increases the traction of the vehicle and gives the driver more control of the steering. Traction control reduces accidents by giving drivers more ability to both stop and control their vehicle. Traction control is also very useful for top heavy vehicles to reduce rollover.
Super Bright Headlights
Super bright headlights are a type of bulb that puts off a brighter light without disrupting drivers in oncoming traffic. These are great for increasing road visibility when driving at night.
All Wheel Drive
All wheel drive vehicles have a powertrain that powers all four wheels. All wheel drive vehicles maximize tractions and are great for any dangerous road conditions. If you live in an area with a lot of rain, snow, or dirt or gravel roads, all wheel drive vehicles can give you much more control.
Lane Departure Warning
Lane departure warning is an alert that lets you know when you’ve driven outside of your lane without using the turn signal. This is a great feature because it reduces the possible damage of distracted driving and it helps you remember to always signal your intentions to other vehicles.
Forward collision is an advanced warning system that uses radar or lasers to detect a possible collision. Forward collision warns you if a vehicle in front of your has stopped suddenly or if an undetected vehicle pulls in front of you. It also warns you if you are going to drive into a fixed object. Forward collision is a great safety feature because it dramatically reduces the risk of collision.
Adaptive Cruise Control
Adaptive cruise control uses radar or lasers to sense the difference between you and the car in front of you and then adjusts your cruise control speed accordingly. This is a great feature for highway driving because if a car suddenly pulls in front of you, your car will automatically adjust its speed.
Side assist helps a driver to change lanes by uses radar or a laser to monitor the traffic in the side lane. This is especially useful for monitoring blind spots. Side assist helps reduce accidents from lane changes.
Emergency Brake Assist
Emergency brake assistant is a sensor that recognizes when a driver makes an immediate stop. Emergency brake assist helps add extra pressure to the brakes to reduce stopping time. This is a great feature because it helps a car stop quicker to avoid collision.
Adaptive headlights are headlights that shift to illuminate where a car is driving. These are especially great when taking turns because they light up the turn before the driver takes it. Adaptive headlights increase visibility because they illuminate where a driver needs to see.
So when looking to buy a new car, make sure the vehicle has all the standard safety features.
It is also a good idea to look into some premium safety features, especially with first time drivers. However, safety features are only as good as the driver.
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