Many car buyers consider safety to be the most important factor when buying a new vehicle. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration is responsible for setting the minimum requirements for all vehicles on the road. To reduce fatalities, manufacturers are turning to advanced technology to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place. Here are a few of the mandatory and optional safety features that you may find in a new car:
Advanced frontal air bags: Protect in front-impact crashes, shielding the driver’s and front passenger’s heads, necks, and chests.
Advanced head restraints: Reduces the risk of head and neck injuries in accidents
Electronic stability control (ESC): Maintains vehicle control and helps reduce the risk of rollovers.
LATCH: Anchors in the vehicle seats that hold the child seat in place without the use of the vehicle’s seat belts.
Side air bags and curtains: Protect occupants in side crashes by shielding their heads, necks, chests, and pelvises.
Tire pressure-monitoring system (ESC): Uses sensors to continuously monitor the vehicle’s tire pressure and alerts the driver if tire pressure is low.
Adaptive headlights: Articulating headlights that can help drivers see around curves. Many adaptive headlights also will automatically dim the vehicle’s high beams if it detects oncoming traffic.
Anti-lock brakes: Designed to help drivers maintain control of the vehicle during emergency braking situations, ABS keeps a vehicle’s brakes from locking up. They’re not required by the NHTSA, but most new vehicles have them.
Auto-reverse windows: Power windows that automatically reverse direction if it detects an object is caught in its path.
Blind-spot warning: Sensors that detect when other cars are in a vehicle’s blind spot and alert drivers with lights. They may audibly alert the driver if he begins to change lanes when a vehicle is in the blind spot.
Curve control: A system that monitors speed and will attempt to slow down a vehicle if it detects that a vehicle is traveling at too high of a speed to navigate a curve.
Emergency response: Electronic systems that use GPS and cellular technology to contact emergency services or operator centers in the event of an accident.
Forward-crash avoidance system: Monitors the vehicle ahead, and alerts the driver or automatically brakes, or does both, if it detects that a crash is imminent.
Lane-departure warning system: Monitors lane markings on the road and alerts the driver if the system detects the driver is making an unintentional lane drift.
Rear-view camera: Cameras installed in the rear of the vehicle (viewable from the dash) that help the driver spot objects and people in his path as he’s reversing. Rear-view cameras will be required in all new vehicles starting in 2014.