8 safety features to look out for when buying a car

This may seem like a bit of an obvious article, but you know, I am all about safety. There are loads of safety features and accessories that you can get, or which might come standard on a car. However, if you are not sure that you can even trust them, then it’s going to be hard to know which to go for, and which to ignore. Let’s take a look at some of the best safety features and accessories you can get.

Run-Off Road Protection

First developed by Volvo in the XC90, this is essentially a feature that helps when a car has left the road. The moment the car detects that it might have left the road, a few things happen: the seat belts tighten, an energy-absorbing device between the seat and seat frame help to cushion any impact that might occur, the airbags are deployed and the brakes are put into action.

Adaptive Cruise Control

This is a system that you will find on the vast majority of premium cars today, and it could be one of the best motoring safety features that have ever existed. The system uses a range of sensors and some radar technology to lock onto the car that is in front on the road, thereby helping to maintain a safe distance. It does this by applying the throttle automatically as and when it is needed, and the brakes when they might be needed too. Because a majority of accidents on the road are a result of tailgating, this is an extremely effective measure against this kind of incident, and as such it is likely to save a lot of lives. It can even tighten the seatbelts where necessary.

Eyesight Driver Assist Technology

This is a simple and yet very effective system which, again, is already available on the majority of new vehicles and looks unlikely to be avoided in the future with new models. Essentially, it is a way for the driver to be able to see better in conditions where visibility might be poor. It uses two digital cameras, which keep a close eye on the traffic movement around the vehicle while also giving you a warning if there appears to be any traffic up ahead. But the really clever part is what happens if the driver doesn’t react in time: pre-collision braking comes on, as it does in many other technologies of this kind, to get clear of an impact, or at least reduce its potential impact on all involved.

Driver Monitoring System

With a driver monitoring system, in the most advanced cases, it uses facial recognition software to be able to determine if you, as the driver, appear to be sleepy, tired or generally unfocused while driving. In many cases, the system is also able to automatically change your seating position and your mirror angles wherever necessary. That might sound alarming, but the technology is very effective and it really is a trustworthy system that works very well.

Autonomous Emergency Braking

This has been around for a while now, but autonomous emergency braking is a life saving technology that has saved many lives. With this system, which is somewhat similar to the adaptive cruise control mentioned above, the technology senses the proximity of the cars in front of you, and applies the brakes if it thinks you might be about to crash. At low enough speed, this can prevent an accident occurring at all, and sometimes it might merely lessen the impact.

Anti Lock Brakes

This has been around for ages, and yet it remains one of the most important safety features that there are. If we did not have anti lock brakes, there would be many more accidents the world over every year, without fail. So what exactly is this technology, how does it work, and how come it tends to save so many lives?

In simple terms, anti lock brakes are a way to stop the wheel locking up, which used to be a big problem. During hard braking, it used to be that the wheel would sometimes fail to turn, and as you can imagine this could cause a lot of trouble, and some potentially very dangerous situations, to arise. ABS has sensors at each wheel, which prevents the braking at each individual wheel, and in doing so avoids any particular lock-up from occurring, enabling the driver to maintain full control of the vehicle at all times while braking hard.

Parking Camera

Again, this is not new, but sometimes these safety features look a lot more like gadgets, and they can even be fun to use. That is certainly true of the 360-degree parking camera, which you will have noticed starting to appear in cars about a decade ago, although back then only in the pricier models. Now, however, it is something that you are likely to find in many new cars. But how does it work, and does it really help to make the experience of driving that much safer?

It’s pretty simple to get your head around this one, as you might imagine. A parking camera is simply a series of cameras around the car which helps you to see when you are reversing or parking into a parking spot. This helps to avoid those scrapes that can occur as a result of poor parking, and will certainly save you from reversing in to those poles that just jump put of nowhere.

Adaptive Headlights

This is not immediately obvious as being an important safety feature, but it is a great feature to have. Many cars come with adaptive headlights now, but the majority of vehicles on the road still don’t have them. While they are not absolutely necessary, they can prove to be useful, and they are something that you would generally want to look out for whenever you are buying a new car or thinking about upgrading an old one with newer safety features.

Adaptive headlights are simply those headlights that adapt to the light levels of the ambient area automatically. Because different drivers have different ideas of when headlights are necessary, these adaptive headlights are likely to be important in ensuring that lights are always on when it is necessary. That is likely to save a lot of lives in the long run, as it means that drivers are more often driving with an actual clear sign of where they are going and what is ahead of them.

As you can see, there are a wide range of features that cars tend to have as standard. Even those that are not standard are becoming more and more popular over time, and the end result of this is that driving is only getting safer for everyone. That can only be good news. Plus, it makes driving as an experience more enjoyable and easier, and much less stressful, which is something that many people will be glad for too. Look out for these safety features above, and you should be a safer driver.

I’m Julz, South African motoring journalist with a passion for cars and a questionable sense of humour. I am not your average motoring journalist, and this is not your average motoring website.

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