New Vehicle Presents a New Safety Opportunity

Lisa Robinson

Often, we connect with each other through shared experiences. Are you wearing a mask in public? Staying at home? How are you coping during this pandemic?

We seek parenting advice from friends and co-workers. We want to know about the best schools for our children and how to best set up a virtual learning environment in our homes. We look for ways to keep our loved ones safe. What does that mean when you purchase a new vehicle?

Let me share my experience: I recently bought a new mid-size SUV. Whenever I shop for a vehicle, I shop for safety. Oh, I like comfort, style and a little luxury, too. What is most important to me, though, are the advanced safety features available in today’s vehicles. I’m talking about features such as automatic emergency braking, tire pressure monitoring and adaptive cruise control.

Up front, let me say this: These features are meant to assist drivers, not replace them. You still are your car’s best safety feature. When it comes to vehicle technology, I understand the enormous potential of reducing crash risk that may come with the arrival of autonomous vehicles. We are nowhere near there yet.

Nor is the consumer vehicle purchasing experience a perfect one, either. I’ve learned sales representatives at many auto dealer locations are ill-informed or ill-equipped to talk about advanced vehicle safety features, let alone how to demonstrate them in action. So, I’ve taken to educating myself. I read and watch videos online before I go shopping. After I make a purchase, I read my owner’s manual.

You do your homework before buying a new kitchen appliance or a new TV, right? This is no different. This is about prioritizing safety. What I found particularly uplifting after making my most recent purchase was this: After I submitted a vehicle satisfaction survey, I was directed to My Car Does What, a website managed by the National Safety Council.

I feel this is one more indication transportation safety and driver safety are moving forward on a larger scale. The word is getting out there. At My Car Does What, you can learn about all the advanced safety features on today’s vehicles and what is coming down the pipeline, too. You can share what you learn with all your friends:

  • High Speed Alert: Coordinates the car’s position, via GPS, with a database of speed limit information to alert drivers if they’re speeding
  • Drowsiness Alert: May alert you if you’re drowsy and suggest you take a break when it’s safe to do so

I particularly love adaptive cruise control. One reason: My vehicle will be slowed automatically if someone pulls in front of me on the highway. The high speed alert function is particularly helpful as I enter a work zone and my vehicle slows down – by itself.

This technology is working to keep me safe. I still have a responsibility to pay attention when I am behind the wheel. I do not abdicate that responsibility. In fact, I still go the extra mile for safety when I am parking my vehicle. I look for pull-through spots because I’m nervous about using automatic parallel parking. That’s my experience.

I am sharing this with you today in the hopes you connect your personal wellbeing with driving. We all share the roads. Too often, the impact of crashes is permanent. We might get only one try at safety.

– Lisa Robinson is a senior program manager at the National Safety Council