Before You Buy That Car
Looking to buy a new (or, at least new to you) car? Though people are keeping their cars longer than ever before (an average of 11.4 years), it might be worth considering an upgrade to take advantage of the improved “structural crashworthiness” of newer models and the latest car safety features. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), your chances of dying in an auto accident are dramatically lessened in late-model vehicles. In fact, 9 of the 2011 model- year vehicles show the driver death rate as 0! Following are some of the newest safety features that you might decide you need when considering purchasing a car.
- SIDE & SIDE-CURTAIN AIRBAGS
Front airbags have been mandatory in cars since 1998, but did you know that virtually every new car now comes with side and side-curtain airbags as well? Some cars even have inflatable seatbelts, front-center airbags, and outside airbags that pop out over the windshield in case your car hits a pedestrian.
- ELECTRONIC STABILITY CONTROL (ESC)
All models since 2012 are required to have ESC. It’s designed to help keep the car on the road when the driver loses control. ESC detects and reduces loss of traction (sliding) and steering control by automatically applying the brakes and, in some cases, reducing engine power to help straighten the car out.
- TIRE PRESSURE MONITORING SYSTEM (TPMS)
TPMS became mandatory on all cars in 2007. It keeps track of the air pressure in a vehicle’s tires and warns the driver of low tire pressure. It’s helpful in preventing blowouts and rollover accidents caused by tread separation.
- BACK-UP SENSORS AND CAMERAS
As a driver is backing up, back-up sensors give an audible warning if there is something in the way. Back-up sensors are helpful but may soon be rendered obsolete by back-up cameras. In 2014, nearly half of the cars manufactured had back-up cameras. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has mandated that by May of this year, all new passenger vehicles be equipped with them. When a car with a back-up camera is put in reverse, a display on the dashboard shows the driver what’s behind the car. Some back-up cameras also show trajectory lines and distance readings.
- FORWARD COLLISION WARNING
Forward collision warning systems use cameras, radar, or lasers to detect when a driver is closing in too quickly on a vehicle ahead and issue a warning with an audible alert or vibration of the steering wheel. Some systems will even apply the brakes to prevent a crash. Though this feature is not yet widely available, it has been found to be quite effective in preventing crashes or lessening their severity. As a matter of fact, the IIHS will not give a vehicle its top safety rating without it. Some of these systems only operate at slower speeds, so if this is a feature you want on your car, be sure to check if it will work at highway speeds.
- LANE-DEPARTURE WARNING
With this safety feature, cameras or lasers monitor lane markings and give an audible or vibration warning when your vehicle moves out of its lane without the activation of a turn signal. Some systems will even slow and stop the vehicle and/or steer the car back into its lane. It is usually offered on luxury cars and more expensive trim levels on non-luxury cars.
- BLIND-SPOT WARNING
This system uses radar or cameras to monitor your blind spot, triggers a warning light (and in some models, camera footage) if something enters your blind spot, and often includes an audible alert if you activate your turn signal and/or attempt to change lanes. It is becoming more available on upscale trim levels on most affordable cars.
- ADAPTIVE CRUISE CONTROL
Once you set your cruise control speed, adaptive cruise control scans the road ahead and adjusts your speed if it detects a slower moving object in front of you. It accelerates back up to the set cruise control speed after the area ahead clears. Though more common in luxury vehicles, it is fast becoming available on other models.
- VOICE CONTROLS
In addition to Bluetooth that lets you use your phone hands free, many cars now offer voice command for other functions like climate control and navigation.
- PARK ASSIST
With park assist, when you pull up next to a car and shift into reverse, the car will parallel park on its own. Though this isn’t a huge safety feature, it may keep you from having to file an insurance claim for dinging a car.
- ADAPTIVE HEADLIGHTS
With this highly effective new technology, the vehicles headlights pivot with steering wheel input to light the road in front of you. This is especially helpful in rural areas when wildlife makes its way onto the road. Since 2014, its availability has been gradually increasing.
- ALLERTNESS MONITORING
Tired driving is a huge safety risk, and allertness monitoring systems save lives. These systems have sensors that detect erratic driving such as drifting or sudden deceleration and give an audible, and sometimes visual, warning. This feature is mostly available on high-end cars.
Here at Accident and Injury Chiropractic, we hope this list of available safety features helps you with your car-buying decision and keeps you safer on the roads. Just remember, if you are in an accident, come to the nearest Accident and Injury Chiropractic office where our goal is to have you back on the roads as quickly as possible.