Buying a car involves making big decisions; You have to find the right model, maybe get financing, and even pick the right color. But what about those advanced safety features that could save your life? Where is that on your list? Driving my kids around? You’re driving a tank. Safety features vary from car to car and truck to truck.
Confusion around the names of those systems and how they work only adds to what many shoppers say is an already unpleasant experience.
As an injury attorney, I read advertisements with ‘airbags’ and ‘seat belts’ in them. I laugh because all cars have those nowadays! Anti-lock brakes (ABS or ALB (the two common acronyms for anti-lock brakes)) is offered as standard equipment on all new cars and many light and heavy trucks. So it is comical to me to see advertisements saying those are perks. Really? Put the radio and AC next to that as well. They must think we are idiots. Let’s get to the real safety features not found in most cars.
As an injury attorney, here are my top five:
- emergency braking (auto braking);
- lane change warnings;
- Traction control;
- Tire pressure monitoring; and
- any mechanism to stop texting and driving (especially with teenagers).
What Safety Features Is the Car Equipped With?
Some names may sound familiar, others not so much. And when you stack them up together advanced safety terminology can get downright confusing.
Currently, 93% of new vehicles offer at least one advanced safety system, such as automatic emergency braking or blind-spot warning. But they are called different things in different cars.
AAA research shows that people may encounter as many as 20 different names for the same advanced safety feature. Take blind spot warnings for example Honda calls their blind spot warning a ‘blind spot information system.’ Toyota calls theirs: ‘blind spot monitor.’ And on some GM models, it’s called ‘lane change alert.’
‘So if they were all called the same thing, then consumers would be able to understand what these technologies are doing and also be able to walk into a dealer and get technology on their car that they want and be able to use it potentially for safety on the road,’ Funkhouser said.
Here’s the good news: In January, the Department of Transportation endorsed Consumer Reports‘ list of proposed standardized names. While this endorsement doesn’t mean that automakers will be forced to use the new names, you will see a manufacturer moving in that direction.
Is a Car Safer Than a Truck?
The short answer is: it depends. In a collision between a car and a truck. The big one usually wins. A death is 7.6 times more likely for the occupant of the car when struck by an SUV/truck. In a truck versus truck, those are usually much more severe.
What Safety Systems Are Coming Out in the Future?
I am sure there are many safety systems coming out in the future, but none excite me more as an injury attorney, a consumer, and most importantly, a father, than the DADSS systems. The DADSS systems is the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety and it is a new technology that prevents cars from operating if the driver is impaired or drunk.
While in D.C. back in 2017, I was a guest of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving National Convention and we saw some of this technology being developed. There were two systems: Breath and Touch. The breath seems less reliable and too easily tripped if you had drunk passengers and were the designated driver as it measures the amount of alcohol in the cabin. I would also be concerned that it would be too complex and would break down often (making the car useless).
The ‘Touch’ system, however, seemed more promising. The touch-pad system utilizes spectroscopy (like an infrared light) to measure alcohol levels in the skin tissue. If the levels register as 0.08% or more, the car won’t start! The touch-pad system would be put in a natural spot for drivers (think the ‘start’ button) and the cost: anticipated between $400 and $1,000.
Frankly, if all of the safety features are about the same and if a manufacturer-installed that on one of their vehicles and I am buying the car for my child, I’m getting the one with the DADSS system.