A new report from Consumer Affairs examines the willingness among auto manufacturers to market their vehicles not by touting their sleekness or the top speed, but by referencing the myriad safety features now contained within. With consumers increasingly expecting such technologies to be available in any vehicle they purchase, it’s perhaps not surprising that automakers have felt obliged to include the features and then market their availability.
The report breaks the new safety features into two basic categories. The first set are those that can help an accident from ever occurring in the first place. Certain high-end vehicles, for instance, are now being equipped with systems that can tell if an obstacle in the road is about to trigger a collision and even hit the brakes to avoid the accident. Some vehicles can also stay within the lanes without driver input. The other category of safety features are those which offer additional protection when a crash does occur, such as additional airbags and more advanced crumple zones.
One area that automakers are going to have to start paying more attention to is front-overlap crashes (this is basically where a car strikes another vehicle or obstacle on its front corner). Protecting occupants during such a crash can be tricky, but with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducting these types of crash tests for the first time this year, automakers will need to improve safety in this regard if they hope to gain a Top Safety Pick designation.