Which Features Make My Car Safer?

Image of a Modern Car

Whenever someone in San Antonio or elsewhere in Texas is shopping for a new vehicle, all car buyers should take special note that vehicle drivers and passengers are being protected by more vehicle safety features than ever before. Safety should always be a major consideration when buying a new car. And while overall safety ratings can be a helpful tool, it is usually a better idea to examine the car’s individual safety features and to know why their inclusion is important. Knowing what safety features to look for and understanding how they work is important when you choose the right car for the needs of you and your family.

In that vein, here are the most common safety features that you will want to include in your next vehicle purchase. Most newer cars have all of these safety features, but they may be missing on a few older cars, so beware.


A car’s airbags will deploy in a crash, which serves to cushion both the driver and passengers from slamming into the most common impact points, like the steering wheel, dash, and  the glass in the windshield or the side doors of the vehicle. While it would be very difficult to find a car without airbags nowadays, when you’re shopping for a car, you should investigate to make sure the airbags on the car you choose have not been recalled. You should also check to be sure the car has a safety feature that allows you to turn off the airbags if a small child has been placed in the front seat, since the impact of the airbag’s deployment can be very dangerous for children who are not riding in the back seat.

Shatter-Resistant Glass

All vehicles these days are equipped with shatter-resistant glass because the windshields in older cars covered the driver and passengers in shards of dangerous glass, and modern shatter-resistant glass provides the windshield and other windows in the car with glass that breaks into numerous larger, more harmless pieces in the event of an accident. The way shatter-resistant glass is laminated serves to prevent serious injury to the driverand passengers.

Antilock Brakes

Antilock brakes prevent the wheels from locking when you hit them quickly because locked wheels can cause the car to spin out on a slippery service, making it impossible for you to steer. An ABS system will use sensors on each wheel to pulse the braking system to each wheel during hard braking in order to prevent locking the wheels. This safety feature will help keep you in control, even when you have to hit the brakes hard.

Electronic Stability Control

Every passenger vehicle built since 2012 must include electronic stability control built in. This safety feature employs sensors to detect wheel speed, sideways motion, steering angles and rotation, so as to prevent the vehicle from sliding or skidding. If the vehicle moves out of the driver’s intended path, the system will apply brakes to one or more of the wheels to help the driver regain stability. A number of car makers have a brand-specific name for their stability control system, like Buick and GMC’s StabiliTrak and Ford’s AdvanceTrac for Ford, but all of them work largely the same way. Stability control prevents dangerous rollover accidents, as the vehicle’s computer helps compensate for driver error, which is more likely if you turn too hard in a vehicle without stability control. The computer compensates for oversteering by sending power to different wheels to avoid an accident.

Traction Control

When considering car safety features in a vehicle purchase, protect your family by considering making sure automatic traction control is included. Traction Control systems limit how much the wheels can spin when you are accelerating, in order to ensure that the wheels have maximum traction, even in wet, icy or otherwise  slippery conditions. Traction control systems typically work alongside the car’s antilock brake system to put the brakes on when a wheel starts spinning too quickly, routing power to the opposite wheel to prevent skidding.

Four-Wheel Steering and Pre-Collision Sensors

This safety option offers precise maneuvering ability while driving at high speeds. It is especially useful when driving on hilly areas. In recent years, many new cars have been equipped with sensors to detect an impending collision and then provide impact protection. In cars with those features,  seat belts get tighter, airbags align and brakes become preloaded as a way to reduce shock

Adaptive Headlights

Headlights improve vision after the sun sets, and adaptive headlights actually take visibility a step farther, by using sensors to monitor the car’s elevation, so as to illuminate the road more effectively while also reducing glare for oncoming drivers. By improving visibility and making your car easier for other driver’s to see, adaptive headlights have become an important safety feature. Three types of lights are essential for any vehicle: brake lights, turn signals and headlights. Make sure that you use all these for their stated purpose, so that other drivers don’t have to guess what you’re planning to do. Check the bulbs regularly, in order to ensure that they’re in perfectly working condition. Have a bulb replaced as soon as it fails. If you’re frequently traveling on long routes at nighttime, you should consider having powerful bulbs or HIDs installed for your headlights.

The Bottom Line

One thing to remember when considering which and how many safety features your new car may have; you can still find yourself in a crash. You still have to do everything you can to make yourself as safe as possible, through defensive driving and by paying all of your attention on the road. Turn off all distractions, including your cellphone, and use a designated driver when you’ve been out drinking, no matter how little you think you drank.

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