Perhaps the most important consideration when buying a new car is its safety features. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), it is key for drivers to consider crashworthiness and crash avoidance and mitigation when purchasing a car.
So when you start your search, come prepared with these safety features and test ratings in mind – they could spare you and your passengers from potential accidents and injuries.
Autonomous cruise control
This intelligent form of cruise control automatically speeds and slows your vehicle to keep pace with the car in front of you. After the driver sets the cruise control, the front radar sensors monitor traffic conditions, notifying the driver audibly or visually if braking is needed ahead. According to ExtremeTech.com, autonomous cruise control (ACC) is recommended for drivers who often find themselves in stop-and-go traffic where speeds vary anywhere from a standstill to 60 mph.
This feature recognizes the speed at which the brake pedal is being pressed during emergency braking situations. The system determines whether this force is sufficient and if additional pressure needs to be applied. Oftentimes, this feature is paired with ACC and will automatically apply the brake pedal in congested traffic conditions.
Blind spot monitoring
Side monitors alert drivers of vehicles lingering in passenger-side blind spots. Most cars activate a light on the passenger-side mirror when this occurs, but other models will display a flashing red light or an audible chime. Newer Honda models are equipped with the LaneWatch System, which displays live video of your passenger-side blind spot in the center console when the turn signal is activated.
These cameras are highly recommend for families with small children. They send live video of the rear of the car. According to Edmunds.com, 57 percent of drivers in vehicles equipped with a back-up camera avoided backing over objects behind their vehicle. If you purchase a car that does not come installed with a backup camera, add-on back-up cameras can be installed where the image is sent to a monitor mounted on the car’s dashboard.
These electromagnetic or ultrasonic sensors notify the driver of obstacles in front and behind the vehicle while parking. The system warns the driver with a chiming tone whose frequency indicates the distance from an object – the faster the chime, the closer the car is to an object.
When driving on winding roads at night, these lights aim their beam in the curve of the curve to provide better visibility. Sensors within the headlights measure the speed and steering angle, prompting small electrical motors to adjust the direction of the headlights accordingly.
Certain automakers, such as BMW, also equip their models with headlight beam throw control, which raises the level of the headlights at high speeds and lowers them at slow speeds – an ideal feature for inner-city drivers.
Child seat anchors
Though most child restraints can be properly installed using safety belts, Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) is an installation system that is intended to make this process easier on parents. When searching for the LATCH attachment hardware when car shopping, make sure that the location of the tether anchors are easily accessible when securing your child’s car seat.
Crumple zone crash test ratings
These formal assessments are performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to evaluate how well a vehicle protects its occupants when its front, rear and side areas experience impact. The car’s structural designs are analyzed after it has been struck by an SUV, pickup, or vehicle of its similar size and weight. You can look up a car and check its rating by visiting NHTA’s website at www.safercar.gov.