Just this month, a mandate that all new cars come with a backup camera as standard equipment, finally kicked in — 11 years after the regulation was first passed during the Bush administration.
Many new models now have other impressive safety features as well, including rain-sensing wipers, blind-spot detection, and adaptive cruise-control available as either standard equipment or as an option.
In other words, it seems safety has become the new black.
We’ll break down some of the features and offerings by car.
Tesla: Aside from the fact that Teslas run on electricity, one of the company’s biggest selling points is its Autopilot option, a suite of features that keeps the vehicle between the lines and sets the cruise control to maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you.
Cadillac: This brand is all about the hands-off approach. Similar to Tesla’s Autopilot, Cadillac has its own version of a semi-autonomous system called Super Cruise. Once engaged, Super Cruise allows a driver to take his or her hands off the steering wheel. That may sound like a free pass to do other things while driving, but Cadillac makes sure the driver still pays attention to the road. A small camera on the steering column monitors the driver’s eyes.
Audi: The luxury German brand has a new system coming out called AI Traffic Jam Assist, expected to debut later this year. Also, Audi’s new vehicle-to-infrastructure system – or V2I – ties a number of new features into their cars. Certain Audis can communicate with traffic lights so the driver knows when a light will turn red or, if already sitting at a stoplight, when the light will turn green. Onboard computers will eventually be able to control the vehicle’s stop/start technology to restart the car five seconds before the green light.
Honda: Honda’s 2018 Odyssey minivan has an option called CabinWatch. A small high-mounted camera feeds a live picture of the cabin to the front dashboard touchscreen.
“CabinWatch is essentially an app that allows families to watch over their passengers,” said Peter Tran of Holler Honda in Winter Park. “Instead of having to turn your head to the rear to see your rear occupant, you can keep your head straight and look at the display.”
What Honda is trying to do is cut down on distracted driving by enabling the driver to keep eyes forward and resist turning around. CabinWatch also has infrared so the driver can keep an eye on the passengers at night without turning on the cabin lights. Along with the Honda’s CabinWatch comes Honda’s CabinTalk, a system that uses a driver-only microphone to make “PA-style” announcements through the speaker system or directly to passengers if they are plugged in and using headphones.