Have you ever been backing out of a parking space, only to have a car shoot past behind you? You slam on the brakes, and narrowly avoid a crash — this time.
Wouldn’t it make sense to own a car equipped with one of the new rear cross traffic detection systems? They use radar sensors on either side of the rear bumper to alert drivers not only to oncoming cars, but also to bicyclists and oblivious pedestrians pushing shopping carts. The systems are available on new Fords and other cars.
Or how about the pedestrian and cyclist detection system, with full automatic braking found on new Volvos? What a boon that would be, particularly in an era when walkers and bike riders are so often distracted by their smart devices.
These are just some of the recently-developed safety systems that can help protect us seniors — and those around us as well. Other systems include rear backup cameras; forward collision warning systems, sometimes coupled with automatic braking; automatic headlight dimmers; parking assist; lane departure warnings, which can include automatic steering back into your lane; blind spot monitoring with braking and steering assist; and adaptive cruise control to keep us a safe distance from the car in front.
When shopping for a safer car, be sure to consult the interactive safety rating website of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. There, you can plug in the models you’re thinking about and learn their ratings on crash worthiness and collision avoidance.
AAA has a website that helps seniors find vehicles adapted to whatever disabilities age may have brought upon them. The adaptations include things you might not ordinarily think about, such as thicker steering wheels for those with arthritis or high contrast instrument panels for drivers with diminished vision.
The problem with buying a new car loaded with all the latest safety features is cost. Optional safety systems can push the price of a Honda, Chevy, or Toyota well over $30,000. A Volvo C60, with a range of safety features included, might come in at $34,000. Getting into a safety-equipped Mercedes or Audi will cost even more.
As time passes, advanced safety systems will begin to appear in less expensive cars, and in the used car market. Consumer Reports includes both new and used cars in its top ten list of best cars for older drivers.
It’s going to be a while before we can get into our Google self-driving car and head out to the eye doctor. In the meantime, let’s hope that the new, advanced safety systems will help keep us on the road.