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16 Car Safety Features No Vehicle Should Be Without

Updated: Jan. 30, 2024

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 before. From automatic braking to smart cruise control and high beams, here are 16 car safety features you will want 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.

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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
gunsan gimbanjang/Shutterstock

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)

Forward-collision warnings are nice, and certainly are better than nothing at all to help us 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, because “connecting a phone to these platforms 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.” While Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is available on all new GM models (and standard on most) and is standard on Range Rover models, save 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.”

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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 because it literally keeps you from veering into another lane. This is especially crucial to keep drivers safe late at night, when tired eyes get heavy and weary minds often drift, causing cars to do the same. Lane assist technology gently bounces cars back into their lane unless a turn signal is on to indicate the desire to switch lanes. 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 because tires are your point of contact with the road surface and therefore are every bit as critical as what’s under the hood, on the inside, and the safety features 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
Mila Demidova/Shutterstock

Panoramic camera rearview mirror

Kristen of Cool Mom Picks often finds her family car full of kids as well as full of all the stuff her four kids have piled up in the backseat. That makes visibility difficult. That’s why she believes a panoramic HD camera rearview mirror is a car safety feature no vehicle should be without, like the “camera mode Chevy built into the rearview 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
Courtesy Chevrolet

2020 Chevrolet’s Traverse Buckle to Drive

The Buckle to Drive car safety feature standard in the 2020 Chevrolet Traverse literally makes it impossible to start driving until the driver, along with every passenger, has buckled their seat belt. This is so simple but so smart, and it is a car safety feature no vehicle should be without. Additionally, the radio is disabled until those belt buckles are clicked too—no music and no driving until everyone is safe and secure inside the 2020 Chevy Traverse. (You can disable the feature if need be.)

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Winter studded tire on the snow .

Snow tires

According to Erik Craddock, a technician with Firestone Complete Auto Care who has been 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 “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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Geir Olav Lyngfjell/Shutterstock

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 but many still are, despite this technology being around for at least five years now, per this Cnet article on smart high beams. 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. Find out the things you’re doing to your car that mechanics wouldn’t.

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Side Curtain air bag ,safety in car

Side-curtain airbags

“While not required by regulation,” says State Farm, “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, which will help prevent ejections and neck injuries and keep any tree limbs and metal poles on the outside in the event of a crash. Find out the ways you could be wasting your money when it comes to car maintenance.

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chevrolet silverado transparent trailer cameras
Courtesy Chevrolet

Multiple cameras

Rearview cameras are becoming fairly 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 separate views. You can literally see every angle from your vehicle without having to twist or turn, which makes driving this truck surprisingly easy and fun.

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back door safety feature
Suti Stock Photo/Shutterstock

Safety exit assist

Because 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 car safety tech will, yes, keep your children safe, but will also help protect the other vehicles and cyclists with whom you share the road and parking lot space. This feature debuted on the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV.

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chevrolet teen driver assist
Courtesy Chevrolet

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.
Igor Corovic/Shutterstock

Adaptive cruise control

Picture this scenario:You’re zipping along on the highway, cruise control set to have you going exactly as fast as the speed limit allows (of course), when a slower car suddenly decides they want to be in your lane. It happens often, it’s frustrating, and most importantly, it is a very dangerous situation that requires 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
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Blindspot alert

There are a number of reasons to be excited about the prospect of buying a new car, but Liz Gumbinner, co-founder of Cool Mom Picks, says, “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 might try to merge left or right. Blindspot alert is absolutely a car safety feature no vehicle should be without and is available in many makes and models of new vehicles. Find out 30 things your mechanic would never tell you for free.

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chevrolet rear seat reminder
Courtesy Chevrolet

Rear seat reminders

Many new vehicles come with rear seat reminders that let you know you may have left the most precious cargo there is, i.e. your child, in the rear seat of the car. The reminder on GM models, for instance, is activated when a rear door is opened ten minutes before the car was started and anytime after. Then, when you turn off the car, the reminder flashes up on the control panel.

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range rover clearsight car feature
Courtesy Land Rover

Range Rover’s ClearSight technology

According to Techradar.com, 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 site goes on to wisely realize that 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 how it could help with pulling into a parking spot correctly and making tight turns. Read on to find out the ways you could be shortening the life of your car.