15 Car Safety Features to Consider While Buying a Car

15 Car Safety Features to Consider While Buying a Car

June 19, 2023

Did you know that in Canada, a staggering number of car accidents occur each year, resulting in a significant loss of lives? According to the Canadian Transportation Safety Board, there are approximately 160,000 car accidents annually, with 2,800-2,900 of them leading to fatalities. The year 2020 alone witnessed 194,767 people involved in vehicle accidents, tragically resulting in 1,746 deaths. 

These statistics underscore the urgency and importance of prioritizing safety features when purchasing a car. While many cars nowadays come equipped with mandatory safety measures like seatbelts and airbags, it is prudent to consider additional safety features. 

After all, as the timeless adage reminds us, it is it's better to be safe than sorry. In this blog, we will explore in detail the crucial safety features you should be well-informed about when buying a car.


Top safety features to look for in a car:


Mandatory Safety Features

1. Seatbelts

Seat belts worn correctly can reduce the chances of death in a collision by 47% and the chances of serious injury by 52%. In 2015, Canada implemented a requirement for a three-point seat belt as a compulsory safety feature in all seating positions of vehicles. 

This type of seat belt combines a lap and shoulder belt that fastens with a single buckle. Currently, every passenger vehicle is equipped with seat belts in all positions. The three-point seat belt is widely recognized as the most effective safety measure to date. 


2. Child Seat Tethers

Proper use of child restraints can reduce the likelihood of death by 71% and injury by 67%. All vehicles are required to have attachment points for the tethers on child seats. However, the usability of these attachment points may vary among different vehicles. 

In Ontario, it is mandatory for all drivers, including visitors, to ensure that children under the age of 16 wear seat belts and that children under the age of 8 are securely placed in the appropriate child car seat or booster seat. Failure to properly secure a child under your care can lead to charges under the Highway Traffic Act. If found guilty, you may face a fine of $240 and receive two demerit points on your driving record.


3. Airbags

From 1990 to 2000, airbags saved about 300 Canadian lives. Every vehicle should be equipped with an airbag in the steering wheel and on the passenger side of the dashboard, as well as front seat-side airbags and curtain airbags covering the side windows. 

Additional airbags may vary depending on the automaker and the specific vehicle. These may include airbags for the driver's knee, the passenger seat cushion, the space between the front seats, or the sides of the rear seats. Although not flawless, airbags provide significant benefits outweighing any potential harm.


4. Anti-Lock Brakes

ABS, or Anti-Lock Brakes, are now mandatory in all new vehicles sold in Canada. They prevent wheel lock-up and sliding during hard braking by using wheel sensors and a computer system to optimize braking at each wheel. This allows drivers to maintain steering control and maneuver around obstacles when needed.

When ABS is activated, drivers may feel a pulsating sensation through the brake pedal and hear a chattering noise from the wheels. These sensations are normal as the system rapidly applies and releases the brakes to provide optimal power and control. To make the most of ABS, firmly press the brake pedal and let the system do its job.


5. Rearview Camera

Since May 2018, rearview cameras have become mandatory in all new vehicles. They automatically activate when the shifter is placed in reverse. While most vehicles display the camera image on the center screen, some may show it in the instrument cluster or rearview mirror.

The primary purpose of these cameras is to enhance backup safety. In addition to the basic functionality, many rearview cameras offer additional features such as dynamic lines that adjust with the steering wheel for easier parking, proximity sensors that provide warnings for objects or pedestrians in close proximity, and 360-degree or bird's-eye cameras that offer a comprehensive view of the vehicle's surroundings. Typically, rearview cameras are located in the rear bumper, license plate area, or trunk lid/tailgate latch. 


New and Optional Safety Features

1. Blind Spot Detection

Blind Spot Detection systems are designed to address the areas that are not visible to the driver, known as blind spots. These blind spots typically exist on the sides near the vehicle's trunk, but their specific location can vary depending on the vehicle model.

When you change lanes or if another vehicle is driving in your blind spot, the blind spot detection system will activate and provide a warning. However, it's important to note that this system should not replace the practice of checking your mirrors. While blind spot detection enhances safety, regularly checking your mirrors remains essential for maintaining situational awareness on the road.


2. Lane Assist 

Lane assist is a system that includes lane-keeping assist and lane departure warning. It utilizes a set of sensors to detect the lines on the road. If the vehicle starts to drift over the lane markings, the sensors will emit a beep to alert the driver. Vehicle owners have found lane departure warning more annoying than other crash avoidance technologies. Nevertheless, it's better to be cautious and prevent a possible collision, and avoid possible insurance charges and claims.


3. Parking Sensors

Parking or proximity sensors are designed to assist drivers during the parking process by providing additional awareness of the vehicle's surroundings. These sensors can detect nearby objects such as other parked cars, tall curbs, and various obstructions.

When the vehicle approaches an object within close proximity, the parking sensors emit audible alerts or visual indicators to alert the driver. This enables the driver to gauge the distance between the vehicle and the detected obstacles, facilitating safer and more precise maneuvering into a parking spot. Using parking sensors enhances convenience and helps drivers avoid collisions or damage while parking.


4. Backup Cameras

Backup cameras, or reverse cameras, are designed to aid drivers while reversing their vehicles. These cameras provide a visual display of the area behind the vehicle, allowing the driver to see obstacles or potential hazards that may not be visible through the rearview mirrors alone.

Additionally, backup cameras often include helpful lines displayed on the in-car video, which assist drivers with parking by providing guidance and reference points for aligning the vehicle within a parking space. The combination of the visual display and parking lines offered by backup cameras enhances safety and convenience when maneuvering in reverse.


5. Forward Collision Warning

Forward Collision Warning (FCW) is a safety feature that utilizes signals positioned on all four sides of the vehicle to establish a safe distance. When there is an obstruction or the safe distance is compromised, the FCW system will notify the driver.

This warning system alerts the driver if they are rapidly approaching the vehicle ahead without applying the brakes. If the warning is disregarded, vehicles equipped with collision avoidance capabilities will automatically engage the brakes. Modern FCW systems are designed to detect vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. Additionally, certain vehicles can even apply the brakes when objects are detected while reversing.

Recommended read: What is GAP Insurance and Do You Need it?


6. Autonomous Emergency Braking 

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is an advanced safety feature that can replace Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and operates without the driver's intervention. It offers enhanced precision when detecting and responding to emergencies.

AEB utilizes cameras, radar, sensors, or a combination of these technologies to constantly monitor the surroundings and identify objects in the vehicle's path. When the system determines the potential for a collision, it takes action accordingly. The specific action taken depends on the AEB system implemented. 

Some systems can apply the brakes to bring the vehicle to a complete stop if necessary. Other systems will initiate braking to slow down the vehicle, giving the driver an opportunity to react and activate the brakes, thus reducing the impact of a potential collision.


7. Pedestrian Detection

Pedestrian detection is a safety feature designed to prioritize the protection of individuals outside the vehicle. This feature utilizes a camera to monitor the movements of pedestrians and cyclists in the vicinity and provides alerts to the driver when potential collisions are detected.

Certain systems even offer the option of automatic braking, where the vehicle can autonomously apply the brakes if an imminent collision with a pedestrian or cyclist is anticipated. 


8. Rear Cross Traffic Alert 

Rear Cross Traffic Alert is a safety feature that utilizes sensors to detect pedestrians or vehicles approaching the vehicle from the sides or rear. This feature proves particularly useful in congested parking lots and busy streets.

By continuously monitoring the surrounding environment, Rear Cross Traffic Alert provides timely warnings to the driver when it detects potential cross traffic. This enables the driver to exercise caution and take appropriate action to prevent collisions or accidents when reversing or maneuvering when visibility is limited.


9. Driver-Attention Monitor

The Driver-Attention Monitor is a safety feature designed to prevent accidents resulting from drowsy driving and distracted driving. This system continuously monitors the vehicle's movements and steering to determine the level of the driver's attentiveness. If signs of drowsiness or distraction are detected, the system provides alerts or warnings to prompt the driver to regain attention and concentration on the road.

Implementing a Driver-Attention Monitor helps enhance safety by promoting vigilant driving and reducing the risk of accidents caused by driver fatigue or inattention.


10. Adaptive Cruise Control 

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) utilizes advanced sensory technology to assess the speed of your vehicle in relation to other vehicles or objects present on or near the road. It employs moderate braking and warning signals when the driver approaches another car too closely. 

With ACC, drivers can set a desired speed limit to avoid surpassing the designated limit. However, the sensory technology of ACC detects traffic or hazardous conditions, causing the system to automatically adjust the vehicle's speed to adapt to those circumstances. ACC helps maintain a safe and appropriate distance from surrounding vehicles while providing convenience and assisting in managing speed variations as needed.

In conclusion, prioritizing safety features is crucial when purchasing a car, considering the alarming number of car accidents and fatalities each year. While mandatory features like seatbelts and airbags are essential, looking for additional safety measures is beneficial. By being proactive and investing in a vehicle with advanced safety features, you are taking a significant step toward protecting yourself and your passengers. Remember, it's better to prioritize safety and be prepared than to regret it later.

More content about: car safety, car safety features