I bought a new car in December. It is a 2016 Subaru Outback and I am still pretty excited about it.
I decided to get the premium package with the automatic hatch lift and heated seats. They are pretty nice, but I don’t really care too much about them. The real reason I bought the premium package is that it came with advanced safety features! The car doesn’t quite drive itself, but these features are definitely a step closer.
Here’s why I think these advanced features are super cool!
1. Blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert - There are lights in the side mirrors that light up if a car is traveling in my blind spot. The lights also flash as an additional warning if I put on the turn signal indicating I am going to merge into that lane. This is a huge safety feature for me. I can remember a few times in my life when I unintentionally merged into a lane and cut someone off that was traveling in my blind spot. The rear cross traffic alert will beep if I put the car in reverse and there is a car or shopping cart traveling in the direction of the car. This is invaluable in tight parking lots when there is an obstructed view of the lane behind the car.
2. EyeSight Driver Assist Technology - This technology has multiple benefits for helping me (and my future teenage drivers) minimize accidents. There are two cameras mounted at the top of the windshield. These cameras enable some of the most important safety advances since airbags and anti-lock brakes.
a. Lane departure warning: The cameras keep an eye on the lane markings. If the car starts to get too close to the markings on either side of my lane, the car beeps and a warning flashes on the central display.
b. Lane keep assist: Sometimes a person may start to drift into another lane. The car will help keep the car in the lane using the power steering function. While it is not an automatic driving system, it does provide a touch of guidance on the road.
c. Adaptive cruise control: We use this car for camping trips where we are frequently on the highway for multiple hours at a time. The adaptive cruise control will maintain a set speed and a safe distance from the car in front. If the car in front slows down, then my car also slows down to maintain the safe distance. If the car in front leaves my lane, then the cruise control will increase to the set speed. This also a helpful feature in stop and go traffic. The car automatically slows down to match the speed of the car in front. If that car stops, then my car will stop. I tried it once to verify that it works, but I still maintain situational awareness and manually apply the brakes on a regular basis.
d. Pre-collision braking: The cameras are also designed to see an imminent collision and start to brake the car. I don’t plan to check this one out myself, but with the other features of the EyeSight Driver Assist working, I have no reason to doubt its reliability.
It will be several years (if ever) before self-driving cars are readily available for the driving public. However, some of the technology that is readily available is being deployed today. My guess is there will be some resistance to the technology, but I believe there will be statistical evidence showing that we will be much safer if at least some of the driving tasks are handled by technology.
The next time I buy a car, it will definitely have these advanced safety features.