Car Safety Features Everyone Should Have

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    Cars offer a lot of safety features these days. Which ones are most important for keeping you and your family safe, and why?

    Car and Driver magazine offers this list of the most important auto safety features.

    • Airbags have been around since the 1970s, and it is often debated whether or not airbags themselves can cause injuries, rather than prevent them. However, according to Car and Driver, the value of airbags is not because they provide a soft landing place for your head, but rather because they increase the time of impact between you and the inside of your car. The more your body is slowed in the process of slamming into the steering wheel, the smaller the impact will be when you do hit. The downsides—burns, white powder, the impact itself—are far outweighed by the protection these devices provide if you are in a collision.
    • Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) give you a shorter stopping distance in a slam-on-the-brakes moment, especially if the pavement is wet or slippery. The shorter stopping distance can keep you from hitting something, or will at least slow you down enough that the impact is less significant. Anti-lock brakes make sure that your steering wheel is still engaged while you are applying the brakes, so you have control of the vehicle even as you are trying to stop, rather than the steering wheel locking and forcing you to hope for the best.
    • Electronic stability control is designed to keep a vehicle pointed in the direction intended by the driver. It is far from foolproof, but when engaged, it should be able to judge if a car is deviating from its intended path and attempt to realign it. Many automotive experts regard electronic stability control as the most important safety feature since the seatbelt, and the U.S. government has mandated that all new vehicles sold in the U.S. since 2012 have some kind of electronic stability control.
    • Seatbelts are the old standard, and still one of the most important. The seatbelt is designed to keep you in the vehicle until it has come to a halt, rather than leaving you and your passengers unprotected against the car’s uncontrolled movement and everything it comes into contact with, as well. The wise editors at Car and Driver also remind us that, “a seatbelt only works if you buckle it.”
    • Car and Driver also says that one of the best safety features is your own brain. Stay engaged while you are driving. Pay attention to changing road conditions, be aware of other drivers, don’t text and drive, don’t drink and drive, don’t speed, and adjust your speed for conditions. It’s amazing how far a little focus on the road can go to keeping us—and other drivers—safe on the road.

    Does your vehicle have these safety features? Does it have any others? Which ones do you think are most important?

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