Having a baby changes everything, and whereas once upon a time you may have been that power couple who could do it all without breaking a sweat, today you’re that couple that, well, sweats it all without doing much. That’s perfectly normal. If you didn’t let a baby change you, then you’re probably approaching the whole parenting thing in all the wrong ways. That said, in addition to trading out your go-go-go lifestyle with a more relaxed one, you must also trade out something far more materialistic but just as symbolic of your independence: your vehicle.
While you don’t have to get a minivan, you can’t very well drive around your bundle of joy in a Smart Car. Doing so would be both impractical and unsafe. So, what kind of vehicle can you drive?
Fortunately for you, there are countless family-friendly vehicle options on the market today, many of which do not resemble the dreaded minivan. When buying a safe car for your family, use this guide to narrow down your list of must-have features and, therefore, your list of vehicle options.
Safety Features That Keep You Alert
No one likes to admit that they’re THAT driver—you know, the one who texts and drives, sings along to tunes without paying attention to the road, or engages in animated exchanges with passengers—but if everyone were to be honest with themselves, they would be able to see that they can be THAT driver every once in a while. Many vehicle manufacturers have devised a solution, or several, to keep distracted drivers less distracted.
For instance, forward collision alert informs drivers of impending obstacles. Lane departure warning alters drivers when they’re drifting out of their own lanes. Automatic emergency braking engages the brakes when the driver fails to react in a timely fashion, or when the driver simply doesn’t have time to react.
Visibility Aids Offer a Second-Set of Eyes on the Road
Even those with the best of vision cannot see everything that is happening on the road ahead of, to the sides, or behind them. Technology, however, can. Many manufacturers these days have equipped their newest makes and models with visibility aids, which make it easier to see things that, for all intents and purposes, drivers shouldn’t be able to see. Three such features include rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and rear-facing camera.
Rear cross-traffic alert informs you of when cross traffic is coming from behind you. This most often occurs in parking lots when people are backing out of parking spots. You’ve probably had it happen to you before—you check your mirrors and over both shoulders and determine you’re in the clear. You move out of the space and then all of a sudden, some driver is blaring his horn at you, or worse, hits you. Such an occurrence can be avoided with rear cross-traffic alerts.
Blind spot monitoring is equally capable. Blind spot monitoring is helpful in both parking lots and on the open road, as it informs you of when there is a vehicle to the right or the left of you that you cannot immediately see. This system can prevent an accident should you, say, go to change lanes when another driver is coming up on you.
The rear-facing camera is an oldie but goody. This handy feature doesn’t just alert you when something or someone is behind you, but actually allows you to see what is behind you while still facing forward. In addition to providing you with eyes on the back of your head, these cameras also provide distance readings. For instance, say that you’re trying to parallel park and want to know how close you are to the vehicle behind you. Just watch the camera, and if you get too close, an alarm will sound. This feature is also helpful in avoiding costly insurance claims.
There is No Such Thing as “Too Safe”
A lot of new parents and car shoppers in general often ask which safety features are absolutely necessary. Though extra safety features do mean extra cost, the truth is that the costs are well worth the protection they provide—both financially and physically speaking. If you want to maximize your family’s safety on the road and minimize the possibility of getting in a costly accident, ask your local dealer about each of the safety features mentioned in this article. Both you and your family will be better off for doing so.