February 7, 2018
Are You Familiar with Your Vehicle’s Safety Features?
You’ve purchased a new vehicle, but hey, you’ve been driving for a while now, there can’t be anything too new under the sun. Right? No, that’s probably wrong. Car companies are starting to equip their late-model vehicles with plenty of new-fangled safety features that can significantly increase your driving safety—especially if you know how to use them. Never fear, there are tips that can help you acclimate to your new car’s safety features.
Your Car’s Back-Up Camera
The back-up camera in your late-model car is intended to work as an extra set of eyes by helping you have a better visual of what’s directly behind your vehicle when you back up. While this safety mechanism can’t replace looking over your shoulder and checking your driving mirrors as you back up (and which you should always do), it can make the process safer and more efficient. These cameras provide you with a wide-angle view (even in the dark) of what’s behind your car every time you put your vehicle in reverse. It’s important to remember, however, that the camera’s view can be obscured by dirt, ice, snow, and direct sunlight. Always look over your shoulder and implement your driving mirrors when you reverse.
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Your Car’s Antilock Braking System
Antilock braking systems (ABS) are intended to help you steer more safely in emergencies by aiding in the restoration of traction to your tires. These safety mechanisms help to prevent your wheels from locking up and, thus, potentially help you steer more safely. Your ABS may not, however, shorten the distance that your vehicle needs to come to a stop. It’s also important to remember that it’s normal for your brake pedal to shudder or push back when your ABS is engaged. This safety system is known as brakes that help you steer, and all you need do to engage it is to apply firm pressure to your brake pedal, maintain that pressure, and steer to safety.
Your Car’s Blind-Spot Monitor
This safety mechanism is intended to warn you when there’s a vehicle in one of your car’s blind spots. It may also warn you if you engage your turn signal when there’s another vehicle in the lane you intend to pull into. All you need do is check for the warning icon on your instrument panel, but remember that your monitor may not detect motorcycles and may not register vehicles that are travelling at extremely high speeds. Never completely rely upon any safety mechanism—always check over your shoulder and use your driving mirrors before changing lanes.
Your Car’s Automatic Emergency Braking System
The automatic emergency braking system in your new vehicle can sense when the traffic ahead of you is stopping or slowing down and will automatically (and urgently) apply the brakes if you fail to respond appropriately to the slow down. This safety mechanism basically slams on the brakes for you if you fail to do so in a timely manner. While it can’t guarantee that you’ll avoid a rear-end collision, it can help lessen the severity of such an accident. Be alert to this automatic action on your car’s part and brake or steer—as appropriate—to avoid the impending hazard. Always remain aware of the traffic around you, and never rely upon an automatic safety system to do your driving for you.
Your Car’s Automatic Parallel Parking Feature
Okay, this is a fun one. Few among us have mastered the fine art of parallel parking, but now your car can help you out. This feature will automatically steer your car into the viable parking spot that you’ve cleverly found (that part’s still on you), but it can’t brake or shift gears for you during the parking process. All you need do is find your parking spot, press the parking button, and pull forward until the parking feature in your car lets you know that it’s identified your chosen parking spot—then shift into reverse, release your brakes slightly, let go of the steering wheel, and voila! You will be directed when to shift back into drive, but remember that braking is always your responsibility with this feature.
Your Car’s Back-Up Warning System
The back-up warning system in your car will alert you to objects that are in your path as you back out of places like your garage or a parking spot. It implements rear sensors that detect and warn you of objects that are behind your vehicle. It’s important to note that these safety mechanisms won’t always detect moving objects. Always check over your shoulder and use your driving mirrors while backing up, but if you feel or hear a warning emitted by this safety system, it could mean that there’s an object behind you that you’ve missed.
Your Car’s Adaptive Headlights
This safety mechanism is intended to adapt your car’s headlights to the conditions of the roadway, including curves and hills, so that your driving path is better illuminated. With this feature, your headlights will actually move from side to side as you turn your steering wheel while taking a curve. It will not, however, automatically switch your headlights from low beam to high beams or vice versa. All you need do to implement this safety mechanism is to turn your steering wheel as appropriate, your automatic lights will take over from there.
This is an abbreviated sampling of some of the safety options out there. When purchasing a new vehicle, always discuss its safety mechanisms and how they operate with the dealer so that you’re not taken by surprise as you motor along in your new ride.
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