5 favorite safety features - backup camera

The seatbelt and airbag are two of the greatest automotive safety advancements ever, but neither are as technologically sexy as today's features incorporating laser, radar, cameras and more. Here are five increasingly common features that combine our need for safety with our fascination of technology.

Backup Camera

Highlighted in the lead image above, few modern technologies are as quickly adopted and difficult to give up as a backup camera. Think about it, does moving a 4,000 pound object without a clear view of the intended path sound wise? Nope. With a backup camera, pedestrians, vehicles or any otherwise unseen danger is immediately revealed. As a bonus, parallel parking is made much easier with a clear view to the rear.

Forward Collision Alert/Prevention

These camera- or radar-based systems can save you from rear-ending that driver ahead who just stopped suddenly or prevent you from hitting other things that decide to get in front of your car, from animals to walls. If danger is sensed, the driver is alerted via an audible and/or visual warning or even a vibration in the steering wheel. More advanced systems can apply the brakes if a collision is imminent.

Lane Departure Warning/Mitigation

These systems also use specialized sensors to monitor the road ahead. If the car drifts from its lane, the driver is alerted via audible, visual or tactile warning, similar to forward-collision alerts. Higher-end systems have the ability to steer the car back into its intended lane.

Blind Spot Warning

Is there a car driving in your blind spot? Are you sure? Even with properly adjusted mirrors the answer isn't always clear. With Blind Spot Warning lights near the side mirrors automatically illuminate when a vehicle occupies either of your blind spots, adding an extra margin of safety to every lane change.

Android Auto, Apple CarPlay

In properly-equipped vehicles Android and iPhone users now have easy access to their smartphone's navigation, phone, entertainment, and texting abilities. More importantly, these features are controlled via voice commands or through a vehicle screen displaying a simplified, phone-like interface. The result is exceptional usability and an infinitely safer alternative to checking your phone behind the wheel.

Looking Ahead

We're probably still several years away from mass-market availability of self-driving cars, but much of the necessary functionality is available on mainstream models today. Cars are already looking ahead, behind and to the side, they can steer, brake and even park themselves, and automakers are working to have them talk to each other. Eventually we'll be able to sit back, relax and watch a movie (or great car videos).

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