Around our home, we buy a new car every 10 years, whether the vehicle has been reliable or not. That’s because, despite our extreme thrift, many cars begin to show their age about that time and become too expensive to maintain. It’s a balancing act, and some financial number-crunching occurs. Finally, we come to realize that the amount of money being poured into an aging vehicle would be better spent in the purchase of a newer ride with improved safety features. In this article, we’ll explore the top safety features available today, their benefits and any potential drawbacks. This way, if it is time to consider trading in ‘Old Paint’, you’ll know what other consumers are opting for and get the biggest return on your investment.

Remember when anti-lock brakes were a major advance? Or how all-wheel drive changed how you felt about winter driving? What about the moonroof? Run-flat tires? And let’s not overlook the allure of a control screen in the center of our dash with its numerous communication features? In recent years there have been even more game changers in terms of automotive safety and convenience. Here are the most requested new features at the car dealership:

  1. Autonomous Driving

    ‘Autonomous’ is a word associated with most of today’s innovations. Utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI), the car is programmed to anticipate and fulfill an expectation. In this case, control (decision-making) is transferred from the drive to the vehicle’s AI system. Some of the ground-breaking safety features noted below are AI-based. This new wave of technology is in its infancy. Not only will AI make our vehicles more intuitive and problem-solving, but also safer, and get ready for this, ultimately driverless. Brave. New. World.

  2. Blind Spot Detection

    Not one for heavily relying on technology, this is one upgrade this writer can get my head around. The blind spot behind every car is responsible for a huge percentage of accidental rear collisions. How it works: a high-resolution video camera is built into the rear along with sensors that sound alerts for the driver when the potential for a collision is imminent.

  3. Adaptive Headlights

    While there are numerous creatures whose eyes are static, experience has proven that this is not a great feature for vehicles. The solution is adaptive headlights. These lights will automatically redirect their beam in the direction that the car is facing, making nighttime visibility, especially on winding roads, negotiating steep hills, and driving in bad weather, much safer.

  4. Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

    Another pre-emptive technology, ESC anticipates when a skid is likely to occur and takes control of the vehicle’s engine and braking systems. However, should a skid be unavoidable ECS additionally marshalls forces to mitigate its effects.

  5. Reverse Park Assist

    Since the day we took our road test many of us have avoided ye olde parallel parking situation. With Reverse Park Assist, drivers press a button, engage the throttle, and the car takes over to steer your vehicle into position without damage to curbs, other vehicles, or yours. Now just how does one extricate one’s vehicle when it’s time to depart?

  6. Rear Cross-Traffic Assist

    My family’s recent move to a retirement community where the average age appears to be significantly older than ourselves, prompted us to look into a new car with this feature. Suffice it to say our new locale is not a good place to have to back out of a parking space. This safety feature uses sensors to monitor the roadway on either side giving both visual and sound alerts is another vehicle is coming. This way we hope to avoid meeting our new neighbors with an auto body repair.

  7. Blind Spot Detection

    These road monitors are ideal for highway driving. The sensors will flash a visual warning if there is a vehicle in your blind spot when you are trying to change lanes.

  8. Lane Assist

    There are a number of versions of this feature. Most will alert drivers with an audible warning if they are drifting into another lane. More advanced Lane Assist functions will move the steering wheel slightly thereby influencing drivers to steer in the indicated direction and presumably out of potential harm’s way.

  9. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)

    Ever notice how law enforcement pulls over the vehicle that is not part of the pack? One of the ways to avoid this and stay in line with moving traffic, is with ACC. It enables drivers to maintain a constant distance from the vehicle directly in front, but will not exceed a set-speed to do so. If the lead vehicle slows down, yours does as well automatically. The question remains as to what happens when the lead exits the parkway, but I am sure the manufacturers have thought of that contingency!

  10. Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)

    The #1 most requested safety feature at dealerships is AEB. Seen on numerous car commercials on TV, this feature uses sensors to detect the proximity of anything in front of your vehicle. When a potential obstacle is detected, AEB applies the brakes automatically to minimize impact or if your vehicle is traveling at a slower speed, to avoid a collision altogether.

As you can see, AI is behind many of today’s safety features and innovations. If you are thinking it is time to trade in your old ride but think the new one would be cost-prohibitive, we have another suggestion. Just research online and determine which safety features are ‘must haves’. Then have a frank talk with your dealer. Every model has several levels of features, and there is likely to be at least one option that is both safety, and budget friendly. Happy and safe driving.