1. Buying a New Car: Introduction
  2. Buying a New Car: Signs It's Time to Buy
  3. Buying a New Car: Getting Started
  4. Buying a New Car: The 5 Best Safety Options
  5. Buying a New Car: Smart Strategies at the Dealership
  6. Buying a New Car: 5 Common Mistakes
  7. Buying a New Car: Sneaky Tricks Car Salespeople Pull
  8. Buying a New Car: Financing Your Purchase
  9. Buying a New Car: How to Spot a Great Car Deal
  10. Buying a New Car: Websites, Tools and Apps to Use
  11. Buying a New Car: How to Maintain a Car's Value
  12. Buying a New Car: Top 10 Takeaways

As you're narrowing your choice of models and brands, keep safety in mind; it's of paramount importance in any vehicle. This won't narrow your choices as much as it used to. Today’s cars, trucks and SUVs are the safest ever produced. Innovations such as crumple zones, side-mounted air bags and anti-lock braking systems are among the reasons. Meantime, automotive engineers remain hard at work developing and perfecting new safety features.

Here are the safety options that are worth seeking out when shopping for a new car.

Back-up camera

While still an option, The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has mandated that all passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. have a back-up camera by May 2018. That mandate speaks to the value of this safety feature. Back-up cameras have earned the praise and trust of motorists with their ability to help them see what’s behind them when their car is in reverse.  Many back-up cameras not only display what is behind a vehicle, but also show trajectory lines and distance readings – making them even more helpful.

This invention can lessen instances of fender benders and lower the amount of insurance people pay for items such as collision protection. It's excellent that they are soon to become as standard in cars as seatbelts.

Blind Spot Warning

No matter how well made and safe modern vehicles have become, they all still contain a blind spot – an area where drivers lose sight in their side-view mirrors of a car coming up behind them. Blind spots have been a persistent hazard for decades. However, today’s technology is able to correct for this issue by using radar and cameras to monitor a vehicle’s blind spot and warn motorists when a vehicle enters their blind spot.

Typically, an icon will illuminate on the car’s dashboard when a car moves into the blind spot. Some systems also employ a bell or ringtone to alert motorists if they attempt to change lanes or engage their turn signal when another car is in their blind spot. Innovative and practical, blind spot warning systems are optional and are usually combined in an upgraded technology package. The cost can be as much as $1,000, which isn’t cheap. But it is a great safety feature to have in any vehicle.

Forward Collision Warning with Auto-Braking

The ability for vehicles to spot a collision before it happens and apply the brakes independent of the driver is truly ground breaking. This is what happens with forward collision warning systems that come equipped with auto-braking technology. First your car will alert you that a collision is imminent. If you fail to react to that warning, the car automatically hits the brakes, bringing it to a stop before you have the collision.

Though it's still more difficult to find than most of the others on this list, forward collision warning with auto-braking is becoming more common – driven by strong critical reviews and positive driver testimonials. Some automotive analysts and writers say that this is the one safety feature that consumers should seek out when shopping for a new vehicle. But it’s not cheap. This option ranges in price from $1,000 to $2,500, according to Consumer Reports. You can recover some of that cost through the money you’ll save on lower auto insurance premiums. 

Adaptive Headlights

Headlights are a standard feature that engineers continue tinkering with in an effort to make them more responsive and useful. From daylights to LED lights, the headlights in our vehicles continue improving with time. The latest step forward is “adaptive headlights” that pivot with the steering wheel, illuminating the road in front of drivers. The technology has been rigorously tested and proved to be very effective, especially when driving around dark corners.

Automotive experts recommend adaptive headlights, especially for people who live in rural areas and have to contend with deer, raccoons and other animals prone to being on roads late at night. As a standalone option, adaptive headlights can cost between $500 to $1,000. But that can be money well spent, depending on where you live and how much driving you do at nighttime.

Voice Command Technology  

``Hands free`` is more than an auto-industry buzzword. Keeping drivers from becoming distracted by phone calls, texting and adjusting settings in their vehicle while driving is a very real goal of automakers. To that end, a growing number of car manufacturers are turning to voice command technology that enables motorists to control functions ranging from climate control to the windshield wipers without having to remove their hands from the steering wheel.

People with this option can simply say what they want and the car will respond – allowing drivers to keep their focus firmly on the road ahead of them. Voice command is becoming a standard feature on luxury vehicles. In lower end cars, it is typically included in an upgraded stereo or navigation system and costs $1,500 to $2,000.

The Bottom Line

When shopping for a car, chances are that you will be bombarded with all manner of safety options and features available if you move to a higher trim line or model. Not all are worth the additional cost. But the five listed above are especially worth considering, as they have been shown to work and keep both drivers and passengers safe. They may deliver the added bonus of saving you money on your auto insurance.  

 


Buying a New Car: Smart Strategies at the Dealership
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