Must-Have Safety Features in Modern Vehicles

Regardless of whether you are shopping for a new or used car, it is important to take the time to make sure the vehicle is safe. In addition to taking a test drive in the car, check all of the seat belts to ensure that they work properly before purchasing the vehicle. Head restraints, windshield designs and roof structures should also be inspected for their potential to cause blind spots while you are driving. Safety in modern vehicles has progressed far beyond just those simple assurances. Some vehicle designs offer a wide range of “bells and whistles” when it comes to optional safety features and packages. Most include the usual safety features, such as air bags and seat belts, but beyond that there are many other safety features to consider. Read the following information to determine which safety options are needed, which are the best to ask for and which may simply be money-makers for the dealerships.

Seat Belts

For years seat belts have been one of the most basic safety features in cars. If you are ever in a crash, working seat belts can prevent the riders from being ejected from the car or through the windshield. Good seatbelts are designed to keep you from colliding with the dashboard or the steering wheel. Upgrades to seat belts in modern vehicles include belts that can be adjusted to accommodate varying heights and weights. Many have built-in features that include a pretensioner, which automatically takes the slack out of the seatbelt.

Head Restraints and Head Rests

Head rests are extensions to the seats and are designed to limit head movement in the event of a rear end collision. They were created to reduce the probability of injury to your neck. There are specific strength and size requirements for front seat head restraints, but not the back seats. Dynamic head rests in some modern vehicles adjust automatically based on the seat settings.

Air Bags

Air bags are included as standard in all modern vehicles. They offer additional protection in the event of a front-end crash. They keep you from hitting the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield. Some modern vehicles also include side air bags for passengers in the front or back seat. They are intended to be used in conjunction with seat belts, so if riders are unbelted when airbags deploy, they may actually cause more damage. Children can also be significantly injured by airbags, but most modern cars allow the airbags to be deactivated in areas where children are riding.

Anti-Lock Brake Systems

Anti-lock brakes save you from yourself in many respects and are included as standard in all modern vehicles. Anti-lock brakes keep the wheels from locking up when you panic and suddenly hit the brakes. This also allows for more steering control during an emergency situation. Some additions to the newer anti-lock brake systems include brake assist features. This feature detects the force at which the driver depresses the brake and boosts the power when it is needed. It can reduce the stopping distance and possibly save lives.

Traction Control Systems

Most modern vehicles come with traction control systems, which allow drivers greater stability. The traction system adjusts the engine power output automatically, and in some vehicles, applies the force to the brakes on selected tires. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes are better safety options to select if available.

Electronic Stability Control Systems

This type of stability control is different from traction control. Electric stability control systems help drivers to maintain control when steering cars in extreme circumstances. The sensors in the system note when a vehicle is losing control (or spinning out) and it applies the brake for the driver to a single wheel. This reduces the likelihood of a severe crash where the vehicle flips or rolls over. However, this system does not help if the driver is operating the vehicle at excessive speeds.

All-Wheel Drive Systems

When you have an all-wheel drive system, the power is distributed to both the front and back wheels of the vehicle, maximizing your traction on the road. This allows you to have greater control in bad weather and is especially helpful in rain and snow.

Comfortable Seats

Safety features can be as simple as having comfortable seats. You will spend a lot of time in the car and if you are uncomfortable comfortable, it can quickly become a safety issue. Purchase a vehicle with seats that can be adjusted to accommodate your height and weight. Some seats adjust automatically while others must be manually situated.

Hands-Free Controls

Most states have passed laws that require the use of a cell phone be contained to hands-free operation. Many modern vehicles also have options that will block signals while they are in operation, so drivers are not distracted while driving. Having basic Bluetooth capability with hands-free operation, or voice control, is a safety feature that should be opted for if it is not included as standard.

Automatic Headlights

Obtaining a car that automatically turns on the headlights when they are needed, and off when they are not, is not only convenient, but is also helpful for your safety and for the safety of your fellow drivers. Many accidents occur because drivers have forgotten to turn on their lights or they thought they had their low beams on when they only had daytime driving lights engaged.