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16 Car Safety Features No Vehicle Should Be Without

We each want a car that fits our legs and lifestyle perfectly. But more than anything else, we want a car that will keep us and our loved ones safe on the road.

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Car safety. Business man fastening seat belt in auto, driving to work, copy space

Cars Are Being Made Safer Than Ever

With the advancements in technology, cameras and connectivity, our cars are safer than ever. From automatic braking to smart cruise control and high beams, here are 16 car safety features to look for when shopping for a new vehicle. Of course, any car is only as safe as its driver, so brush up on these 10 safe driving tips for scary driving situations. Also, discover what cars are made of.

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Foot pedals are levers that are activated by the driver's feet to control certain aspects of the vehicle's operation brake pedal/Car accelerator pedal and brake pedal/Car controls

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)

Forward-collision warnings are nice, and certainly better than nothing to help prevent a crash. But nothing beats automatic emergency braking when it comes to car safety features no vehicle should be without.

Per Consumer Reports, in cars with AEB, “brakes are automatically applied to prevent a collision or reduce collision speed when the system detects an imminent collision with a vehicle directly in front.” Check out the 13 weird car features you didn’t know you might have.

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apple carplay feature

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto Connectivity

Switching songs, starting a new podcast or fumbling with your phone’s GPS while driving could easily be avoided if every car offered Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. It’s the favorite car safety feature of TechSavvyMama Leticia Barr.

“Connecting a phone to these platforms,” she says, “lets drivers get directions, make calls, listen to favorite music, and even send and receive messages through your vehicle’s built-in display while allowing them to keep their eyes on the road and off our phones.”

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is available on all new GM models (standard on most), and standard on Range Rover models except for the Discovery Sport, according to Barr. “Toyota will be adding Android Auto to more of its 2020 models, including the Rav4 Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid,” she says. Check out these 15 things you need in your car year round.

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Speedometer with lane assist

Lane Assist

It’s not quite self-driving, but lane assist technology found in premium Kia Telluride trims, for example, is a car safety feature all vehicles should have. It keeps you from veering into another lane, which is especially crucial late at night when tired eyes grow heavy and weary minds often drift.

Lane assist technology gently bounces cars back into their lane unless a turn signal is on. It is properly brilliant and could save more lives if every car had this safety feature standard. Switching lanes without using your turn signal is one of the rude driving habits you should stop ASAP.

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Close-up image of car wheel with black rubber tire

Quality Tires

Tire tread is essential to staying safe on the road. A quality set of tires is a car safety feature no vehicle should be without. Tires are your point of contact with the road surface and every bit as critical as what’s under the hood and on the dashboard. Find out if your tires pass this crucial one-second test.

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Rearview mirror on the windshield of the car

Panoramic Camera Rearview Mirror

Kristen of Cool Mom Picks often finds her family car full of kids as well as the stuff her four kids have piled up in the backseat, making visibility difficult. That’s why she believes a panoramic HD camera rearview mirror is a car safety feature no vehicle should be without. She prefers the “camera mode Chevy built into the rear view that displays a clear panoramic view from the back of the car straight on the mirror itself, to give you a better picture of what’s going on around you.”

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Chevrolet Buckle to Drive feature

2020 Chevrolet’s Traverse Buckle to Drive

The Buckle to Drive car safety feature standard in the 2020 Chevrolet Traverse makes it impossible to drive until everyone in the vehicle has buckled their seat belt. This is so simple but so smart, a car safety feature no vehicle should be without. Additionally, the radio won’t work until those belt buckles are clicked — no music and no driving until everyone is safe and secure inside the 2020 Chevy Traverse. (This feature can be disable.)

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Winter studded tire on the snow .

Snow Tires

According to Erik Craddock, a technician with Firestone Complete Auto Care awarded the American Society of Engineers Master Tech status in 2018, drivers “in areas with persistent snowy and icy winter weather should consider making the switch from all-season tires to winter tires.”

Snow tires are an essential car safety feature because, he says, “cold temperatures make all-season tire rubber less flexible, reducing tire grip and your ability to control the vehicle on slick roadways.” Learn some more crucial safety tips for winter driving – these winter tips are crucial for safety on the road.

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Smart High Beams

Being blasted by an oncoming car’s high beams puts you in danger because for that brief moment, your sight is severely impaired. That’s why smart, self-adjusting high beams are a car safety feature no vehicle should be without. Many still are, despite this technology being around for at least five years, per this Cnet article.

This piece of auto tech automatically transitions your lights from high beams to regular strength headlights when a car is detected up ahead, keeping everyone safer on the road.

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Side Curtain air bag ,safety in car

Side-Curtain Airbags

According to the State Farm web site, these potentially life-saving airbags have become standard on many new cars in recent years. Side airbags not only inflate faster than frontal airbags, they usually cover most or all the window space. That helps prevent ejections and neck injuries, and keeps tree limbs and metal poles outside in the event of a crash.

Find out the ways you could be wasting your money on car maintenance.

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chevrolet silverado transparent trailer cameras

Multiple Cameras

Rearview cameras are becoming commonplace. But depending on the size of your vehicle, that may not be enough. That’s why a new Chevy Silverado, for example, comes with 15 views. You can see just about every angle from your vehicle without twisting or turning, which makes driving this truck surprisingly easy and fun.

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back door safety feature

Safety Exit Assist

Automotive safety isn’t only about your vehicle and its precious cargo. The safety exit assist feature “temporarily stops kids from opening the back doors when vehicles and bicycles are approaching from behind,” explains Forbes.

Using an extension of the blind spot monitor, this clever bit of tech will not only keep your children safe, but also help protect vehicles and cyclists with whom you share the road and parking lot space. This feature debuted on the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV. These are the car maintenance basics everyone should know.

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chevrolet teen driver assist

Teen Driver Technology

Yes, it’s a little like spying on your kids. But when you consider that six U.S. teens between the ages of 16 to 19 die every day in car accidents, you’ll appreciate GM’s Teen Driver Technology. It allows parents to set speed alert, a volume limit and more when their new driver is behind the wheel. Plus, it generates report cards so you can see how closely your teen is following your rules — and some state laws.

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Closeup of adaptive cruise control leaver.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Picture this scenario: You’re zipping along the highway, cruise control set to the speed limit (of course), when a slower car suddenly decides to cut into your lane. It happens often. It’s frustrating. And most importantly, it’s dangerous. requiring quick thinking and quicker action on your part.

Gunaxin describes adaptive cruise control as they experienced it in the Kia Stinger: “You set a speed and a trailing distance, and then the car will automatically slow down and speed up as needed depending on the vehicle in front of you, and the settings you choose.”

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Reflection of traffic flow in left side rear view mirror at rush hour

Blindspot Alert

There are lots reasons to be excited about the prospect of buying a new car. Liz Gumbinner, co-founder of Cool Mom Picks, adds one more: “My car is so old and the main reason I want to trade it in is for all the new features, especially the blindspot alert in the driver side rear view that indicates when someone is passing. This alone is my dream feature!”

Blindspot alert uses a little light visible in your peripheral vision to say, “Wait, there’s someone already in that lane!” before you try to merge. Blindspot alert is absolutely a car safety feature no vehicle should be without, and it’s available in many new makes and models. Find out 30 things your mechanic would never tell you for free.

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chevrolet rear seat reminder

Rear Seat Reminders

Many new vehicles come with rear seat reminders that let you know you may have left the most precious cargo, i.e. your child, in your car. On GM models, the reminder is activated when a rear door is opened ten minutes before the car starts, and anytime after. Then when you turn off the car, the reminder flashes up on the control panel. Your child is obviously number one, but there are plenty of other things you shouldn’t leave in your car.

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range rover clearsight car feature

Range Rover’s ClearSight Technology

According to, Rand Rover’s ClearSight technology “makes the bonnet transparent, by taking feeds from the cameras mounted on the wing mirrors and front grille, and merges these into a single display to give drivers the impression they’re looking ‘through’ the bonnet.”

The article goes on to say this Range Rover car safety tech is “probably intended for more adventurous off-roading, but will more likely be called into action on the school run” as children come and go from every direction. Not to mention, it can help you pull into a parking spot correctly and make tight turns. Read on to find out the ways you could be shortening the life of your car.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle is a dad of daughters, herder of house cats, award-winning photographer, avid traveler, and English football fanatic who has had the privilege of writing stories for Esquire, PBS, Good Housekeeping, Time Out New York, and Trip Advisor's Family Vacation Critic, among other fine publications.