Safe Driving Technology: What’s Most Important When Shopping for a New Car

Safe Driving Technology Considerations When Shopping for a New Car

Without a doubt, there are numerous high-tech gadgets and gizmos that come along with new cars. Safety technologies have come a long way over the years. Although there still is no replacement for the safety provided by seat belts, which should be worn at all times in a moving vehicle, the array of new safety technology options for car buyers can feel a little overwhelming.

So, what are the most important safety features—and what can you go without?

Fundamentally, the safety features you choose to invest in should work for you. Some of the items on this list will be useful to you, others might be more useful to your partner. As drivers, we are all unique, and while we should all practice safe driving habits, it doesn't hurt to invest in a vehicle that can help you be a safer driver.

To give you a sense of what safety technologies are quintessential and which you can do without, our car insurance experts here at Morison Insurance put together the following. Keep reading to learn more about some of the most sought-after safe driving technology available on the market.

5-Star Crash Rating

Right off the bat, advances in technology have made it so that nearly every new vehicle is equipped with a 5-star crash rating. A 5-star crash rating means there's less than a 10% chance the driver or passenger would sustain major injuries in a collision. Comparatively, a 1-star rating means there is at least a 40% chance of major injury. Since most new models are rated at 5-stars, it doesn't make sense to opt for a vehicle with a lower rating.

Automatic Emergency Braking

Also known as AEB, automatic emergency braking systems use sensors to detect obstacles in a vehicle's path. The braking system can sense a potential collision with obstacles ahead and will automatically apply the brakes to reduce the severity of the collision—possibly avoiding it entirely.

Automatic braking is often paired with another safety feature called forward collision warning. This system scans the road ahead while you drive, and will warn you if you're on the path to hitting another vehicle or object. Your vehicle will then ascertain if you react to the warning in time. If not, the automatic emergency braking system will engage to quickly slow down your car or bring it to a complete stop. This safe driving technology is also called: active braking, autonomous emergency braking, and intelligent brake assist.

Rear Cross-Traffic Alert/Assist

Similar to automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert/assist systems use sensors to detect obstacles that are behind your vehicle while you are backing up. Often paired with backup cameras, the system will warn you if an object, pedestrian, or bicycle is behind you. Some models will also engage the brakes if the object or person is deemed too close—thus helping you avoid collisions and possibly injuring a third party.

Blind-Spot Warning Systems

Blindspot warning systems, also called BSW systems, use cameras, radar sensors, and/or ultrasonic sensors alongside your vehicle to detect other vehicles that are either beside or behind you and are in your "blind spot." You won't be able to see the vehicle, but your car will let you know it's there through a visual warning (usually on the side mirrors).

Some blind-spot warning systems go one step further. When drivers activate the turn signal, some BSW systems give an audible or tactile warning (such as shaking the steering wheel) to let you know it's unsafe to merge or change lanes. There are two different types of this safe driving technology:

  • Blind Spot Warning: Where drivers get an audible or visual alert notifying that there is a vehicle in their blind spot. Depending on the system, it may also provide a warning when the signal is activated if it's unsafe to merge.
  • Blind Spot Warning with Automatic Emergency Steering: This system automatically steers and/or brakes your vehicle when the turn signal is activated during a merge or lane change and the technology detects a vehicle in your blind spot.

Adaptive Cruise Control Systems

This safe driving technology takes your cruise control and makes it even more useful. Adaptive cruise control (or ACC) helps vehicles maintain a safe following distance and stay within the speed limit. It automatically adjusts your vehicle's speed according to the proximity of the vehicle in front of you. This safety feature is also called: Active cruise control, dynamic cruise control, and intelligent cruise control.

ACC works by using sensory technology such as cameras, lasers, and radar equipment to gauge how close one car is to another. If your vehicle gets too close to another car on the road, warning lights begin to flash. You may also hear a noise or see the message "brake now" appear on your dash to prevent a potential crash. Due to this remarkable advance in safety technology, adaptive cruise control is the basis for future car intelligence.

360-Degree Cameras

A 360-degree camera system in a car provides you with a real-time view of the area around your car. It combines different perspectives from several video cameras placed around your vehicle to create one image. Usually, the image appears as a top-down view. This safe driving technology is primarily used to help drivers park. As you maneuver into a tight parking space, the 360-degree camera system will help you see nearby obstacles that you might otherwise have missed. This helps avoid impacts and collisions that could wind up with costly repairs. Backup cameras also save your passenger the hassle of getting out of the car to help you back up.

Rear Vision Cameras

Rearview mirrors are undoubtedly useful while driving—there is a reason why driving instructors nail-checking the rearview mirror frequently into young drivers. However, rearview mirrors also have a few limitations.

Firstly, the traditional rearview mirror can be easily blocked by debris in the back of the car. For instance, if you're moving or going camping and your vehicle is stock full. You won't be able to see what is behind you. However, with a digital rearview mirror,  there is nothing impeding your vision as it illustrates the view from outside the car. Most digital rearview mirrors are connected to a camera that is placed above your license plate.

Additionally, the traditional rearview only offers a restricted view—often with its own blindspots. By using a digital rearview mirror, you greatly reduce these blindspots while driving. Because the camera is attached to the lower half of the car, you're actually able to see much more than you do with a traditional mirror. Furthermore, rear vision cameras can be adjusted left/right and higher/lower simply by swiping the screen.

Driver Monitoring Systems

Also called a driver state sensing system, a driver monitoring system is an advanced safety feature that uses a camera mounted on the dashboard to track issues with driving or drowsiness. The drowsiness video sensor, which is usually an infrared sensor will then issue a warning or alert to get the driver's attention back on the road. This technology is even able to track a driver's face at night, or if the driver is wearing dark sunglasses. It's anticipated that driver monitoring systems will become standard practice for new vehicles starting in 2024.

Driver monitoring systems are also an essential part of autonomous driving, or vehicles that include driver assistance features. Essentially, vehicles with this advanced technology permit drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel, but they must maintain their attention on the road in case they have to regain control of the vehicle. Two examples of advanced driver assistance systems include Tesla's Autopilot and Cadillac's Super Cruise.

Lane Departure Warning Systems

Also called lane-keeping systems, lane departure systems use forward-facing cameras to monitor the lane markings around your vehicle. When your car approaches these markings, the system uses visual, audible, and/or tactile warnings (such as steering wheel or seat vibrations).

It's important to note that lane departure warning systems do not activate when you use your turn signal, unlike blind-spot warning systems. However, some new vehicles have lane-keeping assist, which invokes automatic steering or braking to try and correct your vehicle if it veers out of the lane. Indeed, there are a few different types of lane systems:

  • Lane Departure Warning: Drivers will be provided audible and/or visual warnings that their vehicle is approaching the edge of the lane or crossing lane markings when the signal light is not activated.
  • Lane Keeping Assist: This safe driving technology provides steering and/or braking to keep your vehicle in the correct lane.
  • Road Departure Assist: This system provides automatic steering and/or braking to prevent your vehicle from leaving the road.
  • Lane Centring Assist: This safe driving technology automatically steers/brakes your vehicle to keep it centered in the lane.

Stereo Volume Limit

Most new cars offer you the option to limit the volume on the vehicle's stereo. This is especially useful if you have a teen driver. Too high audio volume can be incredibly distracting—especially in a car full of teenagers. By limiting the audio volume, you help keep your teen driver safer on the road by ensuring he or she will get less distracted by loud music.

Apple and Android Integration

It's very common for new vehicles to have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto system integration. This technology enables you to put your phone's apps on the in-car screen. This can be especially helpful if you don't like your vehicle's infotainment system or if the navigation system is subpar. Other benefits include hands-free phone technology, so you can call loved ones without having to take your hands off the steering wheel, and Apple Music or Spotify app integration. You'll never be stuck listening to the radio again!

Safe Driving Habits

It's important to note that the above safe driving technology is meant to help keep you and your passengers safe on the road—permitting you already practice safe driving skills. Wearing seat belts, shoulder checking, and monitoring your rearview mirror are just a few of the basic skills that will help keep you safe on the road. Not to mention, if you find any of the above technologies distracting rather than helpful, it's not worth investing in. Distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than an attentive driver—and distracted driving is the number one cause of accidents in Ontario. All the safe driving technology in the world can't make up for poor driver performance.

Four Safe Driving Habits to Follow

To maintain a clean driving record:

  1. Stay Focused on the Road: Like we said earlier, being distracted is the leading cause of accidents on the road. Try planning your trip ahead of time, if you're going somewhere you've never been before, use your GPS. Also, avoid eating and drinking on the road. Try putting on your favourite playlist before you set off to avoid fiddling with the radio. Lastly, never text or use your cellphone while driving.
  2. Stay Calm in Traffic: When you experience "road rage" because of bad traffic, it's easy to make bad driving decisions such as cutting another driver off, tailgating, speeding, or honking needlessly. When you notice other vehicles driving recklessly, or hit a spot of construction while running late, take a few deep breaths and remember that when you drive safely, you not only protect yourself from an accident but also everyone else on the road.
  3. Pull Over if You Get Tired: Feeling drowsy? Driving drowsy is essentially the equivalent of driving drunk. It's not worth the risk! Instead, pull over safely and take a nap. The best practice is to ensure you're well-rested before ever hitting the road, and to plan your trips with space to rest at night.
  4. Never Drink and Drive: Alcohol and drugs impair driving. And when you're impaired, you're more likely to cause an accident. It's simply not worth the risk to yourself and others to ever drive under the influence.

Are You a Safe Driver?

Whether you’re looking for car insurance, weekend car insurance, or tesla insurance, If you're a safe driver, your good driving habits will not only help you have peace of mind while on the road, but it can also benefit your insurance policy. Many insurance companies support good drivers, so it's worth seeing what benefits you may be able to enjoy.

To discover how your excellent driving record benefits your insurance policy, give one of our friendly brokers a call today at 1-800-463-8074. You can also get in touch by filling out our online quote request form.


This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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