Proliferating Safety Features

Proliferating Safety Features
Advanced safety features are becoming more prevalent on mainstream vehicles. (Photo: Ford Motor Company)

Last time, we discussed electrified propulsion and autonomous vehicles that appear to be coming in the future.

If we take a step back and look at what’s currently available for safety features, the addition of multiple electronic driver aids found on vehicles today is certainly driving this momentum.

More and more advanced safety features are being offered on new vehicles each and every day. Here is a small sampling of what’s currently out there.

Today’s features

Based on a review of 350 different vehicles, here’s what percentage of these features are available in today’s market:

  • 93% come equipped with Back-up Cameras—mandatory on all vehicles as of 2018.
  • 60% offer Forward Collision Alert, requiring Radar, Lasers or Cameras to measure following distances.
  • 59% come equipped with Blind Spot Monitoring, which scans for vehicles moving perpendicular to the rear of a vehicle backing out of a parking space, or moving adjacent to the vehicle with a flashing warning light.
  • 54% of this group of vehicles have Lane Departure Warning systems that use one or more cameras to identify lane markings on the road and flash alerts or sound alarms and, in some cases, vibrate the steering wheel to alert the driver that the vehicle is drifting out of its lane.
  • 50% have Adaptive Cruise Control, which uses sensors to maintain speed and also to keep a safe distance from other vehicles.
  • 50% and 17% have Knee and Rear Side airbags respectively.
  • 45% have Auto Braking, which the Federal Government in the U.S. and 20 manufacturers have agreed to make standard equipment by 2022. This feature takes forward collision alert to its logical conclusion.

At one time, many of these safety components were only available on high-end vehicles or packaged within up-level trim configurations—they were almost never offered as standard equipment. Even today, only 27 of the sampling models offer all of the features mentioned above. These are all high-end vehicles, mostly European, with the exception of the Cadillac ATS, Chevy Malibu and Volt, and the Jeep Cherokee. Honda and Subaru models tend to offer these features for the lowest prices. The Accord and Civic can be ordered with multiple driver assistance features on any trim level, and Subaru offers them on mid-tier models. No other cars offer a comparable level of sophisticated features in the mid-$25,000 range.

Focusing on safety

While increasing numbers of mainstream models make this hardware available, we continue to be a long way from everyone benefiting from its universal adoption. So keep watching those mirrors.

This is all good as safety is paramount, but as you can surmise, with more and more safety features becoming standard equipment, the reliance on being aware, alert, and engaged in what we consider the basics of driving will ultimately diminish, thus driving us further toward the totally autonomous vehicle.

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