These Underrated Car Safety Features Actually Save Lives

In the past few decades, cars have evolved to have some of the best safety features and technology we’ve ever seen. On paper, and even on a test drive, some safety tech seems a lot more useful than it actually is, but the only way to tell what you’re really going to use and appreciate it by driving a car with these features. Luckily for us, Consumer Reports has compiled a shortlist of some of the most important, and most useful, safety features that should be at the top of your priority list when checking out features on your next car.

Pedestrian detection

Pedestrian detection seems like a borderline pointless feature — after all, wouldn’t you see a pedestrian walking in front of you? In certain cases, you might not. This is when pedestrian detection comes in, and it can detect more than people and children, it can also detect deer and other objects directly in front of the car, and can prevent a potentially fatal accident.

A side view of the gray-upholstered interior of a 1988 BMW 320is
1988 BMW 320is interior | Bring a Trailer

Automatic emergency braking

It only takes a few seconds for a car accident to happen. A pedestrian, a damaged vehicle, or any number of problems can cause traffic to come to a sudden stop. With automatic emergency braking, your car is able to use sensors to measure the distance between your car and the car in front of you, and if you get too close, or the car in front of you starts to stop unexpectedly, your car will likely react much faster than you can, and apply the brakes.

Blue Tesla on trailer after crash
A damaged Tesla sits on a tow truck after a collision in the HOV lane on the northbound 405/22 Freeway in Seal Beach | Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media, Orange County Register, Getty Images

My personal favorite: blind spot detection

Before owning a car with blind-spot detection, I had always thought that the idea was pretty overrated. After all, I could always take a quick glance behind me and keep a mental note of the cars around me. But, of course, like every driver, it only takes one time for a small vehicle or motorcycle to be right in your car’s blind spot for things to go array. Blindspot detection is actually incredibly helpful for drivers and traffic, and once you get used to having it, you might even feel a bit uncomfortable driving a car without it.

lane splitting in heavy traffic
A motorcyclist rides between the lanes during the afternoon commute on southbound highway 99 in Sacramento, California | Randall Benton, Sacramento Bee, MCT

Popular Cars That Lack Standard Safety Features

While there are plenty of other high-tech features that improve your driving experience, like the constant fun updates to Tesla cars, it’s these life-saving safety features that really make the difference.