Tired of crashing your car? So is everyone else. In the past 5 years, safety technology has advanced considerably. Here are the top 5 safety features that you need to have on your new car:
1. FORWARD-COLLISION WARNING
During university, there were several times where I was so tired from studying that I nearly rear ended the car in front of me because my reactions were so slow. Fortunately for me, I did stop, but I think I nearly had a heart attack each time.
A Forward Collision Warning system uses sensors to detect an imminent crash. Originally a high-end option for top of the line luxury cars such as the Mercedes S-Class, the system is now available on many entry-level cars such as the Honda Civic. Most systems uses a combination of radar and camera sensors and are connected to the braking and steering system. Once the system detects the imminent collision, it will react by both braking and steering to avoid the obstacle.
The system is so effective that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced earlier this year that 99% of new cars sold in the US will have automatic emergency braking systems by the year 2022. It is estimated that annually, this would prevent 28,000 collisions and 12,000 injuries.
2. DIRECTIONAL HEADLIGHTS
One of the features I didn’t even know about when I bought my Volkswagen Golf was directional headlights.
The concept of directional headlights is simple; as the steering turns, the headlights also turn in a proportional amount to light up the road in the direction that you are steering. This gives much greater visibility at night and helps drivers prepare for unexpected obstacles. Although the system has been around since the 1930s, directional headlights have become more common even on entry level cars because electronics such as electric steering has made application of the system much more cost effective.
3. BLIND SPOT MONITORING
As a previous owner of a Toyota MR2, there’s been numerous times where I’ve been literally run off the road by large SUVs. While I’d like to blame the problem on middle-aged ladies driving cars too big and not shoulder checking, the truth is, it is very hard to see a small, low, sports car from a huge SUV.
Blind Spot monitoring is a vehicle-based sensor, usually mounted on side mirrors that detects other vehicles. In most cases, there is either an audible buzz and a light indicator when a vehicle is in the blind spot. Because of modern crash standards, the pillar behind the driver (i.e. B pillar) is quite wide, often obstructing a driver’s rear view for larger vehicles. Blind Spot monitoring helps reduce the risk by monitoring the area behind the vehicle that can’t normally be seen.
4. BACK UP CAMERA
I have a backup camera in my Volkswagen Golf and unfortunately, it turns off at around 10 km/hr which makes it useless for reverse racing. For reverse parking however, it is very useful.
Back-up cameras were first introduced in Japan in 1991 on the Toyota Soarer. They did not become popular until around 5 years ago when infotainment and navigation systems meant that large display screens became standard. As almost 1/3 of child deaths in 2010 was a backover, most governments encouraged their adoption. Almost every new car comes with a back-up camera now, and by 2018, it will be mandatory.
5. LANE DEPARTURE WARNING
I have driven many long-road trips in the past, including a 2000KM trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Inevitably, after more than 10 hours on the road, I’ve gotten tired enough to slowly wander off the lane onto the shoulder. Fortunately, on some sections of Interstate 5, there are “rumble” strips on side of the freeway to rather violently shake you awake.
A much better solution would be Lane departure warning. A Lane departure warning system is designed to warn a driver when the vehicle starts to wander outside its lane. Most systems use cameras that detect lane markings to detect whether the vehicle is in the lane or not. Although the primitive systems have been available on select vehicles since 1992, recent advancements in camera and computer technology have made the systems available on mainstream vehicles including the Honda CR-V.
All of these systems were once only available on flagship cars from luxury brands. However, as was the case with ABS, air bags, and traction control, advanced safety technologies are now available on almost every new car sold. The next time you are looking at a new car, make sure you have all of these features included.