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What AEB and other active safety systems mean for your family

What are advanced safety features and how can they help protect your family? (image credit: Tom White)

We always bang on about "advanced safety features" and rattle off a list of things that a new car should have, but what exactly are they and how do they keep your family safe? Here's a guide to the new safety features you should look out for when buying a car. 

1. Auto Emergency Braking

This can mean different things on different cars, but essentially, the car will stop if you are approaching something and are about to hit it. The car applies the brakes itself and you will jerk to a stop, in case you are distracted/looking away/didn't see the lamp post straight ahead. 

 

Subaru bundles a lot of these safety features together under its 'Vision Assist' technology. (image credit: Tom White) Subaru bundles a lot of these safety features together under its 'Vision Assist' technology. (image credit: Tom White)

This works differently on different cars. Some cars have it at high speeds, which is great for on-road collisions and may help prevent a serious accident. On other cars it will work with city driving at low speeds. Most cars now have to have it with pedestrian and cyclist detection (so the car will recognise a person and stop if it is about to hit it), while other cars even have it working when you're reversing - I personally experienced this one when I was reversing and didn't realise there was a big bin behind me, the car jerked to a stop itself. It's quite an experience because you're not sure what's just happened, but thankfully, the car knows. 

Subaru bundles a lot of these safety features together under its 'Vision Assist' technology which gives you blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and reverse automatic braking which makes the car stop if you're going to reverse into something. The others are explained below. 

2. Rear Cross Traffic Alert

One of my favourite safety features because it's so useful. So when you're reversing out into the street and can't see the oncoming traffic because of other parked cars  (which happens more often than you think, for me it's right in my driveway), the rear cross traffic alert will sound if there is a car coming and it's not safe to reverse. Warned. Easy. 

3. Reverse parking camera

Not just for parking, this will show if there are any little people behind your car while you're reversing, particularly handy for large SUVs when you can't see what's behind you just by looking in the rear vision mirror. It's always one to check when reversing out of driveways and in shopping centre carparks.

4. Blind spot monitoring

A light on your side mirror that glows when there is a car in your blind spot, on either side. This is particularly good when changing lanes on highways and you might not be as alert as you usually are because you've been driving a while. It can help prevent changing lanes and swerving back into your own which can be super dangerous at high speeds. 

5. Lane Departure alerts

Lane departure warnings come in many forms like a beeping and flashing light. (image credit: Tom White) Lane departure warnings come in many forms like a beeping and flashing light. (image credit: Tom White)

This comes in a number of forms. Often it's a beeping sound and a notice will pop up on your dash telling you you're veering out of your lane. Sometimes it's accompanied by steering control where the car will actually hesitate to follow the steering wheel's lead and doesn't want to change lanes. You will be able to eventually, but with a slight vibration you'll be aware that you've veered out without a blinker. 

6. Adaptive Cruise Control

Subaru's 'Eye Sight Driver Assist' has cameras in the windscreen that scans the road. (image credit: Tom White) Subaru's 'Eye Sight Driver Assist' has cameras in the windscreen that scans the road. (image credit: Tom White)

Perfect for long road trips if you're travelling from the south to the north of the country, or east to west, set your adaptive cruise control and you won't have to worry about foot fatigue from pressing down on the accelerator and watching the changing speed limit as you cruise from coast to coast - the car will do it for you. Adaptive cruise also retains a pre-set gap to the vehicle in front of you, and anything that can prevent physical fatigue is also going to have a positive impact on your driving so it's important to keep the family safe on long journeys. 

A more advanced version of this is Subaru's 'Eye Sight Driver Assist' which has cameras on the windscreen that scan the road and anticipate any obstacles including cars, pedestrians and cyclists, and together with adaptive cruise control can help keep you a safe distance from them.

These are the big ones to look out for when buying a new vehicle, and the ones that will have the most impact on your family and others around you.