Not that long ago, such things as air bags and anti-lock brakes were options on new cars. If you wanted any type of air bag or a braking system that prevented you from locking up the wheels, you had to pay extra for it.
Today, not only are air bag systems and anti-lock brakes standard on virtually every type of vehicle made anywhere in the world, but many things that are standard on most family sedans today were expensive add-on options only a couple of years ago. Here are some examples.
While still an option on many cars, for most family sedans and many SUVs, the backup camera has become a standard feature. Being able to see what is directly behind your vehicle via a camera with a different viewing angle than the rearview and side mirrors has prevented innumerable tragedies.
Blind Spot Monitoring
Definitely an option on many vehicles, some family sedans are including blind spot monitors as a standard and you can expect this to become a standard on most vehicles in the not too distant future.
This alerts you to the presence of a vehicle to your side which you may not be able to see with your side view or rear view mirrors.
Air Bag System Improvements
Granted, air bags are pretty much standard in any new vehicle you buy. However, advances in air bag technology have made it safer than ever for both the driver and passengers. The first major improvement in air bag systems that have become pretty much standard are side curtain air bags.
These deploy to help protect cabin occupants from impacts and flying debris, most notably during side impact crashes, although many deploy when the main airbags deploy as a precaution.
Occupant sensing air bag systems are also new standards that use sensors to detect the size of the person in the seat. This provides better, safer protection for not only children but for overweight passengers as well. Not everyone is the same size as the crash test dummy used to gauge the safety of a vehicle, and deploying an air bag capable of properly protecting an occupant is at least as important as deploying an air bag at all.
New “Standards” Coming
There are many safety options available today that will most likely become “standard equipment” in the future. Some of these include parallel park assist, pedestrian monitors and vehicle collision avoidance systems. Today, these are rather pricey add-ons for vehicles, but the safety capabilities are unquestionable.
Park assist essentially takes the parallel parking task away from the driver at the press of a button, pedestrian monitors alerts a driver to the presence of someone walking across the street, and collision avoidance systems can literally stop a car automatically when a collision is imminent.
We’ve not reached the point where Asimov’s ‘Three Laws of Robotics’ applies just yet, but with the advances in technology we’re seeing today, that doesn’t seem as outlandish as it did in 1942 when”Runaround” was published.
However, the advancements in technology to keep us safe is moving from something we pay extra for to something that we’re coming to expect as a standard. With the inclusion of these technologies in family based sedans and SUVs, the future is rushing towards us faster than we may expect.