A Definitive Ranking of Car Safety Features

driver thinking about car safety features

We all know that features like air bags and anti-lock brake systems are crucial. But, what are some of the newest car safety features, and which ones are worth the upgrade?

Lane-Keep Assist

What it does: Cars with this feature monitor whether or not your car is staying within your lane. If you start to drift outside the lines, it will either warn you with beeps or will auto-correct for you.

Usefulness Rating: 6/10

This can work really well if you’re on highways with clearly painted lines that are easily visible. If you’re on a road without lane markers, or if there is snow or dirt or other debris on the ground, your car won’t be able to detect if you’re drifting or not. You can easily override this feature, and in some cars it can be very sensitive.


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Electronic Stability Control

What It Does: This slows down targeted wheels while your vehicle is turning. This keeps your car on course from taking too wide or too narrow of a turn accidentally.

Usefulness Rating: 4/10

While this is a nice feature to have, for the most part, you may not need this. Most seasoned drivers can execute turns easily enough, so it doesn’t prevent accidents as much as you might think.

Adaptive Cruise Control

What It Does: Once you turn on cruise control, it will monitor the speed of the cars in front of you and keeps pace with them.

Usefulness Rating: 9/10

While this may be a more frivolous feature, it’s great for anyone who frequently drives long distances. Instead of having to constantly monitor the cars in front of you in case you need to slow down your cruise control speed, the car does it for you. This actually may help prevent tailgating and fender benders that come from following other vehicles too closely.

Adaptive Headlights

What It Does: This is a setting for your headlights that turns them on automatically during certain road or lighting conditions.

Usefulness Rating: 7/10

This is another feature that makes life a little bit easier, especially considering how important headlights really are. But, it’s easy enough to turn on your headlights for yourself once it gets dark or the weather gets bad.

Collision Warning System/Blind spot detection

What It Does: These are two different features that do more or less the same thing. The car warns you if you’re going to crash, or if there is something in your blind spot.

Usefulness Rating: 9/10

You may not realize how close you come to hitting cars or objects while driving, and the car will definitely let you know if you’re too close for comfort. The blind spot detection is helpful in letting you know if it’s safe to change lanes or not. This is helpful in larger vehicles, where seeing motorcycles or smaller cars can be more of a challenge.

Park Assist

What It Does: It parallel parks the car for you.

Usefulness Rating: 6/10

Parallel parking can be a real challenge, especially if you’re worried about scraping your new car. In theory, this feature makes parking a breeze. However, it’s dependent on the driver not helping with the parking job. It can also cause problems if you haven’t positioned your car in the right proximity to the curb.

Cameras

What It Does: Front cameras show how close your front bumper is to whatever is in front of you. Back up cameras show you how close your rear bumper is to whatever is behind you.

Usefulness Rating: 9/10

The cameras can help you avoid collisions, especially in the rear. The car will often alert you If there are cars coming at you or if there are people walking behind you, making this a great safety feature.

Drowsiness Alert

What It Does: If the car senses that you’re a drowsy driver, it will alert you that you need to pull over and rest.

Usefulness Rating: 5/10

For some drivers, getting a notice that they should take a break would be very welcome. For others, they would ignore it and keep driving.

So, what are the most important safety features? It’s really going to depend on you! Before you spring for a car with every feature imaginable, think about you and your family’s needs, the climate you live in, the condition of the roads you’re frequently on, etc.

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