Car safety has come a long way since the invention of the motorized four-wheel passenger vehicle. The availability of these features in the majority of cars has been accelerated in just the past ten years.
It was all the way back in 1885 when the very first seatbelt was patented in New York, but it wasn’t until 1950 when seat belts started being introduced in American-made cars. 1951 saw the invention of the airbag, and in 1999, both driver and passenger airbags were first required by the Federal Government.
In 2007, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) became standard, and it’s estimated that this computer-controlled braking system saved 2,202 lives from 2008 to 2010. Another electronic safety feature, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), was also introduced that year.
These days, your car may have a number of top safety features, and future vehicles will be packed with even more, thanks to innovations in computer technology and improved electronics. Most of today’s features help drivers detect and avoid dangers, while in the not-so-distant future, advancements will be focused on systems that act on their own to prevent crashes.
Here are some of the top safety features available that can help keep you safe while driving. While your car may have some or all of these, both the exact names and warning systems they use may vary from what we describe below. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual to learn how your car works.
FORWARD COLLISION WARNING
Forward-facing sensors monitor the distance and relative speed between vehicles, and if it senses a crash, will give you a warning in the form of visual cues, a vibration of the steering wheel, or a sound.
ADAPTIVE CRUISE CONTROL
This can help you not just maintain your desired speed on the highway without making you apply the accelerator, it can also help you maintain proper following distance. More advanced systems integrate with your car’s navigation system or forward-looking cameras to slow around tight curves, and some have traffic jam assist so you can even use this feature on your commute.
REVERSE/BACK-UP SAFETY TECHNOLOGIES
Back-up cameras have been in use for years and are now standard, helping drivers avoid collisions when in reverse. Newer technologies include sensors that alert you to objects behind your vehicle, and some systems automatically brake to prevent backover accidents and crashes.
BLIND SPOT DETECTION
If another vehicle approaches or is in your blind spot, these systems will alert you, sometimes with a light on your rearview mirror. If you try to change lanes or turn when there is someone in your blind spot, these systems warn you or even activate the brakes or steering wheel to help you avoid a crash.
LANE DEPARTURE WARNING
Using a camera near the rearview mirror, this system will track your vehicle’s position within a lane. If you make an unintentional move to depart the lane, you’ll receive some sort of warning, such as a vibration in your steering wheel, a sound, or a visual cue on the dashboard. Some systems will correct your lane departure using steering or braking.
These lights improve your visibility by pivoting to illuminate the direction you’re traveling around curves. Adaptive high-beam assist and night vision technology can also brighten your route.
DROWSY DRIVER ALERT SYSTEMS
Using a steering sensor or small camera to monitor a driver’s movements and speed, this technology will often determine a baseline at the start of a trip, then alert the driver using steering wheel inputs, or an image of a coffee cup if it determines a driver is drowsy.
Car manufacturers are making vehicles safer with technology, but there’s no substitute for knowing how to be a safe driver. Stop and Go Driving School is here to help you learn to be a better driver. Learn more about our instructors and courses today.