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Looking for a family car? Here are 4 must-have safety features

Don't Waste Your Money
Posted: 2:35 PM, Feb 10, 2017
Updated: 2017-03-30 11:43:42-04

This year, a lot of people are buzzing about special displays of the cars of Hollywood and dream supercars.

But if you are looking for a car for your family, here's what you need to look for:

Shoppers looking for safety features

Safety technology is everywhere now, such as backup cameras, which will become standard in all cars in 2018 -- next model year.

Car shoppers Desi and Crystal Stewart love features like automatic braking and alerts that show when you are approaching another car or a parking garage wall. They can't imagine buying another car without those features.

"It shows you the distance and stuff like that when you are going to run into a wall or something you cannot see, and that makes it a whole lot better," Stewart said.

And there are four safety features in particular you should ask about:

1. Auto braking

Two dozen automakers have agreed to add auto braking to all models the next five years.

Hyundai's Craig Bentley tells me studies claim auto braking can reduce rear-end crashes by 40 percent.

"It's very helpful," Bentley explained, "Because even if you look down for a moment, because someone stops in front of you, it will start to brake immediately, before you get your eyes back on the road. So it can definitely help you avoid plenty of accidents."

2. Collision alert

Even if your car doesn't offer auto braking, it may offer a slimmed down version of it known as "collision alert."

That sounds a loud chime and puts up a warning triangle on your dashboard if you are approaching a car or object too fast.

3. Lane change alert

Many large SUVs now include lane-change alerting standard, as it is difficult to see a small car to the side when you are sitting so high.

This prevents you from changing lanes right into another vehicle.

Charlie Howard of the Cincinnati Auto Dealers Association says you can tell right away if a new car has these features by looking for little buttons on the front bumper, which are you forward collision warning sensors.

4. Adaptive cruise control

Howard says those same forward collision warning sensors can also be used for adaptive cruise control.

This takes cruise control to the next level, where it will slow your car immediately if the car ahead of you slows down. Anyone who has driven hours on the interstate using cruise control knows how your reaction time can sometimes be delayed if your foot is not near the brake pedal.

Not just luxury cars anymore

Until the last year or two, you pretty much had to buy a top-of-the-line sports car, European luxury vehicle or a $60,000 SUV to get all this new technology.

But now, it's even showing up in compact cars.

"if you are driving an older vehicle, you will be amazed at how much of that technology has now trickled down to average vehicles that most of us drive every day," Howard said.

Stability control and ABS brakes, for instance, were an optional feature 20 years ago. Now they are standard.

With cars and trucks getting bigger and bigger, and low gas prices putting record numbers of cars on the road, it's technology we could all use.

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