Ever wonder why it seems like nobody else can drive properly? You may have a point. There are many ways a driver can put himself and others in danger. Driving drunk, driving distracted, driving aggressively, driving like my grandmother – all of these terrible driving decisions are dangerous, all of them are easily preventable, and the automotive industry is doing its best to protect you from all of them.
Every year there’s a new feature that claims to make theirs the safest car ever – and that may be a valid claim. But for every light or alarm that your new car has, there are thousands of people who won’t use their turn signals or are checking Facebook at 70 miles an hour. While there is no substitute for responsible, attentive driving here are some features your new car may have to keep you a little safer.
Current car safety options
There are countless ways the automotive industry is trying to keep you (and those around you) safe while you’re on the road. This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a good sampling of what’s out there.
Periphery sensors – In case you’re the kind of person who forgets to check your blind spot sometimes, this bit of tech will do it for you, and will alert you with a light, sound, or steering wheel vibration if you’re about to merge into another car. Many models come with this feature standard; there are also several aftermarket kits you can get to give yourself the luxury of never having to turn your head.
Backup cameras – More and more cars come standard with rear-facing cameras that not only assist in parallel parking (something everyone can use, trust us) but also ensure that you aren’t going to run into or over anything on your way out of your parking spot.
Driver alertness monitors – I recently had a Mercedes rental car and had no idea why there was an icon of a cup of coffee on my dashboard. Turns out it’s their driver alertness system. This monitors factors like overcorrecting, slow reaction time, time of day, length of time you’ve been behind the wheel, and how active you’ve been (have you hit any buttons lately?) If the system believes you’re getting drowsy, the coffee-cup icon lights up and the car makes a noise to let you know it’s worried about you.
Key fob technology – Bad things can happen to your car even when it’s parked. The key fob on some Volvo models will tell you – from afar – if the car is locked, if the alarm is armed, and even if there is someone inside. The downside to having this tech in your pocket is the price tag – as keys become more powerful, they also become far more expensive to replace. It’s also significantly easier to lock your keys in the car if you don’t need to have them in the ignition for the car to start (another feature on many new models.)