Top 10 Safety Features You Should Look For When Buying a Used Car

September 24th, 2021 by

A white 2020 Jeep Renegade is shown at night with its smart headlights illuminated after leaving a used car dealership in Lexington.

Everyone knows that driving can be perilous, and despite our best efforts, accidents happen. Even the most cautious of drivers can find themselves bending fenders on a bad day. Crashes happen in an instant, and it’s scary to think that even brief lapses in concentration can result in car accidents. The risk is even greater in a city like Lexington, KY, where the population is bigger, and the roads are more congested than in smaller towns. Fortunately, car technology has come a long way, and vehicle manufacturers are constantly working to make their vehicles safer for everyone with ever-improving safety features. If you’re looking for a used car dealership in Lexington, keep an eye out for vehicles that sport these 10 safety features.

#1 – Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Alert

Forward collision alert and emergency braking go together like peanut butter and jelly. Vehicle manufacturers know it, too, hence why the pair is often bundled into one. A vehicle equipped with this feature uses front-facing cameras to detect objects – including other vehicles – in its path. It will alert the driver of imminent frontal collisions and, when needed, automatically trigger emergency braking to reduce or avoid collisions altogether. We’re all prone to taking our eyes off the road momentarily or even having a foot slip off the brake. Forward collision alert and emergency braking have your back when you need it the most.

#2 – Pedestrian Detection Systems

Pedestrian detection systems work similarly to forward collision alert systems but are specifically designed to detect – you guessed it – pedestrians. The tech in cars is getting smarter and smarter, and cars with this particular safety feature can differentiate human movements from harmless objects, for example, a paper bag floating across the roadway. In the United States alone, tens of thousands of pedestrians are injured in motor vehicle accidents each year. In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that over 6,000 pedestrians were killed in accidents. Each and every one of us is a pedestrian at one point or another, and this feature helps us look out for each other.

#3 – Adaptive Cruise Control

Adaptive cruise control is one of those features that gets us one step closer to self-driving cars, even if we’re not quite fully there yet. For now, adaptive cruise control is a great tool that can make highway driving safer and easier. Instead of keeping your vehicle at a constant speed the way regular cruise control does, adaptive cruise control uses radar to track the vehicle in front of yours, speeding up and slowing down as needed to keep you going with the flow of traffic. Drivers can still set a maximum speed and control how much distance is maintained between their vehicle and others.

A white 2020 Ram 3500 is shown with simulated blind spot monitoring sensor line next to a red Ram 1500 TRX.

#4 – Blind Spot Monitoring

The infamous blind spot has been duping drivers for years, not to mention giving them neck cramps. Vehicle manufacturers have combated the pesky blind spot with blind spot monitoring. Radars located on the rear bumper scan for vehicles approaching in adjacent lanes and chime a warning at the driver to improve awareness of other vehicles in relation to yours. A little icon on the side mirror will also light up, so the driver has multiple cues to alert them of a vehicle in their no-longer-blind spot.

#5 – Lane Assist

Lane assist technology essentially comes in two different versions. The basic systems alert the driver to unintentional lane drifting, so they can maneuver the vehicle back on the right track. More advanced systems go a step further by automatically steering the vehicle back towards the center of the lane. The vehicle steering itself definitely takes some getting used to, but you’ll appreciate the help once you’re accustomed to it.

#6 – Smart Headlights

Everyone’s experienced that moment when they’re driving past another car, waiting and waiting for the high beams to flip off. Before you know it, you can’t see, you’re angry, and you may or may not be aggressively flashing your own brights, just to send a message. It’s not exactly the safest of driving conditions. Smart headlights combat this very scenario. The best systems don’t merely automatically switch the high beams on and off; they even work in tandem with steering to adjust the direction they project light, giving the driver optimal lighting through sharp corners.

#7 – Parallel Parking Assist

Parallel parking assist may not be a safety feature in the traditional sense, but it can prevent a lot of stress and anxiety, neither of which pair well with operating a vehicle. It works by measuring a potential parking space to ensure it’s large enough – if it’s not, parallel parking assist won’t engage. The system may then give you some instructions (i.e. put the vehicle in reverse, take your hands off the steering wheel) before steering into the space. Best part? Parallel Parking Assist doesn’t get nervous if people start watching it.

#8 – 360-Degree Camera Views

Backup cameras can seem overrated if you’ve never used them. Heck, the mirrors are there for a reason, right? Yes, but once you’ve driven a car with a backup camera, trust me when I say you’ll never want to go back. You can, however, go forward with a 360-degree view. Using cameras placed on all sides of the vehicle, surround view will show the driver an aerial view of the car, so they can see all the cars, curbs, goats, and anything else in their immediate surroundings. It automatically kicks on when the vehicle is put in reverse and can manually be turned on when driving straight ahead as well.

#9 – Electronic Stability Control

This system is pretty common these days, but it is still an important one. Vehicles with electronic stability control systems will automatically take action if a loss of traction or steering is detected. The brakes will automatically apply to individual wheels to steer the vehicle in one direction or the other until the driver can regain control. This feature has been fundamental in reducing the number of car accidents and is essentially standard on 2012 models and newer.

A burgundy 2020 Jeep Cherokee is shown using its automatic windshield wipers on a rainy street.

 

#10 – Automatic Windshield Wipers

Sometimes little things can make a big difference. Turning windshield wipers on and off and calibrating their speed probably isn’t much more than an annoyance to most drivers, but it’s still a distraction (especially when you just can’t get the wiper speed right). With automatic windshield wipers, vehicles can detect when it’s raining, plus the amount of rain, to make sure the wipers are, well, wiping at the optimal speed. It’s one less thing to worry about, so you can keep concentrating on the road ahead.

A Collaborative Effort

Safety features like the ones listed above are great tools to make you and your passengers safer on the road. It’s important to keep in mind that, even in a vehicle that sports all of the aforementioned features, driver vigilance is one of the best defenses against car accidents. We’re all human, though, and mistakes are made all the time. When those mistakes inevitably happen, you’ll be glad to have your back covered by a vehicle that’s designed with your safety in mind.