Choose Safety Features on New Cars Carefully

Safety features and semi-autonomous features on new automobiles are growing at a breakneck speed. Although they are not foolproof (e.g., bike lanes and snowstorms cause all sorts of visual recognition difficulties), the automotive jury so far is giving many of these features a solid thumbs up. Car and Driver magazine has test-driven many of these autos, and it reports that the autonomous sensors and algorithms are making tremendous strides in their sophistication and reliability.

Last year, Car and Driver compared the autonomous features of four luxury automobiles: the Tesla Model S, BMW 750i, Infiniti Q50S, and Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG. And the winner was The Tesla Model S. Unfortunately, these cars all cost north of $100,000. So what type of autonomous car feature recommendations can insurance professionals make to their colleagues and friends that don't break the bank? The following are some tips to pass on concerning the selection of a newer model automobile regarding safety features and affordable autonomous features.


- Go online and check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS tests analyze two aspects of auto safety: (a) crash-worthiness (how well it protects the occupants in a crash) and (b) crash avoidance and mitigation (technology that can prevent or mitigate a crash). Their website provides a list of its Top Safety Picks (under "Ratings"). For example, under midsize cars, the 2017 Honda Accord sedan earned the highest safety marks. Under small SUVs, the 2017 Nissan Rogue earned the top grades. The best marks are indicated by the symbol TSP+ (Top Safety Pick Plus). These autos can be used to create your shopping list. The website also has a nice selection of videos that vividly illustrate many of the autonomous features, such as crash avoidance.

- Another worthy website is that of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This governmental entity performs exhaustive tests on crash protection and rollover safety of new vehicles beyond what federal law requires. Its 5-Star Safety Ratings program ranks vehicles from one star to five stars.

- As far as "must have" autonomous features are concerned, one that stands out is the forward collision warning feature (also called smart cruise control). These systems sense slowing or stopped traffic in front of your vehicle. If the algorithm determines that you have not slowed down in the proper time, it sounds a warning. And if you still do not respond quickly enough, the car's brakes are automatically applied for you—thus avoiding a rear-end collision.

- Another vital autonomous feature is blind spot monitoring. As the name suggests, a light on the side-view mirror is activated when traffic is coming up beside your car, reminding you not to change lanes. This is especially helpful for senior drivers who lack the neck-twisting capability of younger drivers.


A rear-view video system is also highly recommended. Also known as a backup camera, this technology helps prevent back-over crashes and protects vulnerable people such as children, senior citizens, and those with disabilities.


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