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6 High-Tech Auto Safety Features To Watch

Automakers have become a common sight at CES in recent years, and it’s really no surprise: Consumer electronics are a big part of today’s cars, as drivers increasingly want to take their favorite tech with them when they hit the road.

But what’s just as significant for the auto industry — and its customers — is the potential to use the latest electronics technology to boost safety. In fact, in the “Carfax 2017 Car Tech Safety Study”, 87 percent of survey respondents said modern safety technologies were an important factor when shopping for a vehicle. With that in mind, here are the six safety-tech upgrades that are resonated with consumers.

Rearview Cameras

According to Carfax, 95 percent of customers said they had been interested in backup cameras when shopping for their current vehicles. Rearview camera systems can dramatically increase rearward visibility, and, recognizing this, NHTSA will make rearview cameras mandatory on most new cars by 2018. This value is reflected in consumer demand.

Front Crash-Prevention Technology

Of course, most folks spend their time driving forward, so front crash-prevention technology has been gaining consumer interest. A variety of functions are covered here, with different systems using radar and/or cameras to monitor the vehicle’s path. If potential dangers are detected, the technology can then alert the driver to take action and, in some situations, automatically apply the brakes. The IIHS also is helping to keep attention focused on these features, and the group’s Top Safety Pick tests now include an evaluation for forward crash-avoidance technology.

Lane-Departure & Lane-Keeping Systems

These systems take a similar forward-facing approach, but here the sensors are used to detect the lane lines on a roadway. A basic lane-departure system alerts drivers if the car begins drifting out of its lane, while the more advanced setups can provide automatic steering to help stay on track.

Blind-Spot Monitors

A blind-spot monitor is an excellent complement to lane-departure/lane-keeping technology. This technology monitors a car’s blind spots, and it can alert the driver if another vehicle is in a position where it might not be seen by a traditional rear-facing mirror.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Also growing in popularity is adaptive cruise control, which is another forward-facing technology. An evolution of the typical cruise-control system, adaptive cruise control can detect whether a driver is getting too close to a slower vehicle in the lane ahead. In that scenario, the enhanced cruise technology can automatically engage the brakes, and even bring the car or truck to a complete stop in a traffic jam. Once things get moving again, the adaptive cruise system accelerates the vehicle back up to its pre-set speed.

Hands-Free Communications

The status of hands-free communications systems is a bit complicated. On the one side, customers are definitely interested in using voice-activated technology to stay connected while driving. Eigthy-five percent of the Carfax respondents reported that a hands-free connectivity system was part of the consideration process the last time they bought a vehicle. Yet according to the National Safety Council — and as pointed out in the study — while going hands-free may be convenient, it’s no safer than using a handheld phone.

When respondents were asked about their interest in features when they bought their current car vs. their demands for the next car, Carfax survey results showed a large overall jump in interest for all of the industry’s latest tech. Features included alerts, sensors, and driver-assist and driver-override technologies. Per the study, those features saw more than a 65 percent increase in the number of people who considered them to be “must-have” technologies for their next vehicles (as compared to what was considered a “must-have” for their current rides). Demand is only growing, as electronics become the way of the road.

Charles Krome is an automotive writer for Carfax, where you can search used car listings and the latest in car tech news.