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Car Features That Help You Drive Your Vehicle

interior of the car

In-vehicle innovation has come a very long way. It used to be that having a DVD player or MP3-enabled sound system was considered cutting edge. This was also when heated seats and automatic sunroofs were reserved for high-end vehicles. Well, things are changing and in keeping step with the technological changes we’ve seen with the Internet and communication - similar advances have been introduced to the latest vehicles on the market.

A large segment of this innovation is centered on the in-vehicle entertainment system - with hands-free hook up for mobile phones, integrated GPS units, integrated DVD players with headphone hook ups, and so much more. What is really interesting is the innovation we’re seeing in making it easier and potentially safer to drive your car, truck, SUV, or minivan.

The idea behind this type of technology is to remove the “stressful” components of driving - think parking, driving in reverse, blind spots, and lane transitions.

Self-Driving Vehicles

Yes, a self-driving vehicle... Powered by Google technology the goal is to power driverless cars. These cars are currently only in test and trial mode and only one state is allowing the cars on their roads. Currently Nevada is allowing engineers and technicians to test how well this works using technology that includes global positioning and computer vision to drive without anyone holding onto the steering wheel.

Self-Parking Vehicles

If you watch the Amazing Race you likely saw the 2012 Ford Focus in action. This car has on-board features (Active Park Assist) that allow the car to park on its own and can even help the driver find a parking spot. Simply put the car in reverse, take your hands off the steering wheel and the Ford Focus will do the hard work for you. Mercedes-Benz has similar technology in its cars and BMW has self-parking technology that can help you back out of a tight parking spot in a garage.

Blind-Spot Identifiers

The blind-spot, particularly with highway driving is the source of many accidents. All too often drivers check their mirrors but neglect to do a shoulder check to verify their blind spot. Recognizing this, Mazda has integrated blind-spot monitors into some of its cars that alert drivers when cars are approaching on the side. This alert is done with integrated alarms into the mirrors that light up, move and beep. The idea is to let you know that there is vehicle in your blind spot that you might not be aware of. More and more vehicles feature the rear-facing camera that helps drivers of big trucks or cars that make it hard to see blind spots to the rear of the vehicle. Interestingly the federal government hopes to make such cameras mandatory in all new cars by 2014.

Cross-Traffic Alerts

We’ve all experienced the stress of backing out of a tight parking space that is bound by two large vehicles. With similar radar that is used to identify blind spots, Ford has an integrated warning system that alerts you if a vehicle is close to you when trying to change lanes or maneuver out of a parking spot. Vehicles moving at a least 5 miles per hour and within a 45-foot range will enable an alarm to sound.

Lane Warnings

Depending on the time of the year and where you’re driving it can be challenge to know the lane boundaries. And there are times when we get too close to the edge of the lane. Well, to help alert you to this drifting, some vehicle manufactures have created a warning signal that involves a rumbling or vibrating steering wheel.

What are your thoughts on this technology? Do you think this will make the roads safer or will it not make a difference? Many people who have tested this technology and take advantage of the parking assist do say that it does take some stress out of driving. Of course we all still need to shoulder check, verify our speed and always be aware of the other cars on the road.