This post is sponsored by The National Safety Council and University of Iowa, who have partnered to promote a campaign around “My Car Does What.”

 Earlier this year we purchased a new car. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my old car. In fact, after nine years, 150,000 miles and countless road trips, I had actually grown quite attached to the dear thing. But as cars age, they start to break down and since I log a lot of miles with this very precious cargo in the back, I wanted to make sure we were safe.

Summer road trips

As we were car shopping, I realized that many cars available today have a ton of great safety features. Ultimately, we chose the Volvo XC-90 because of its reputation for safety and its comprehensive safety options.

I’m still getting used to the many bells and whistles on my new car including lane departure warnings, forward collision warnings, rear cross traffic alerts and blind spot monitors. Yet, I’m so glad this car has all of those features. Despite education campaigns and new traffic laws to reduce distracted driving, every day I hear of another horrible accident. Given as much time as I spend on the road, I want all the safety features I can to protect my precious family.

MyCar Does What

Whether you are looking for a new car, searching for a rental, or planning a road trip with your current vehicle, it is helpful to get acquainted with the safety features available. You might be surprised at what your car can already do to keep your family safe on the road!

Here are some of the car safety features I think are essential:

  • Back up cameras – even my last car had a back up camera and now when I find myself in a rental without one I’m a mess. It is so important to know what is behind you when backing up…there are just too many horror stories from those who couldn’t.
  • Rear cross traffic alert – this is a new feature for my car and I love it. Not only can I see behind me with the back up camera, but ultra-sonic sensors can look across your backing up path and give a red light and fast beeping alert to let me know if someone is about to drive behind me. This is so helpful in crowded shopping center parking lots.
  • Blind spot monitors – my new car is a lot bigger than my old one and I’m still getting used to some of its blind spots. I love that when I’m driving down the highway, I know if someone is next to me because of the red light in my sideview mirror, even if I can’t see them. My car also has an additional warning if I put on my turn signal and there is a car next to me in that lane.
  • Forward collision warning – I’m a pretty alert driver but anyone can glance away for a second to change the station, look at the time, check out your speed, etc. And it only takes that second for the person in front of you to slam on their brakes. The forward collision sensor sees that happening and can alert you of a potential accident. My car flashes red lights across the windshield and also has an audio alert. It can be startling and sometimes over sensitive, but again, it is there for my safety and the safety of others.
  • Tire pressure monitoring systems –The tire pressure alert isn’t something to ignore. If your tires are over or under-inflated, it could cause a dangerous tire blow out and the tire pressure monitoring may advise if tire pressure isn’t optimal.

There are other features like automatic emergency braking, anti-lock braking systems, auto-parking, 360 degree cameras, and adaptive cruise control, which adjusts according to the speed of the car ahead, all designed to keep us safe.

To learn more about car safety features, visit MyCarDoesWhat.org, which includes educational videos and other information about a variety of safety technologies including back-up cameras, blind spot monitoring systems, forward collision alerting and other systems that help drivers avoid or reduce the severity of a crash. MyCarDoesWhat is a national campaign to help educate drivers on new vehicle safety technologies designed to help prevent crashes. The National Safety Council and the University of Iowa partnered to launch MyCarDoesWhat to educate the public on how to best interact with these safety features to have better, safer driving experiences.

Road trip safety tips

Here are my tips for staying safe on the road:

  • Don’t drive when you are tired! If that lane departure warning keeps going off, it probably means you are too tired and need to get off the road. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I find that even a walk outside, a bite to eat or maybe a caffeinated drink can help prepare me for the rest of my drive. I’ve also pulled to the back of a rest area for a power nap. Just be careful if you do this to lock the doors, crack the window and only do it if your kids are old enough to stay put.
  • Familiarize yourself with all the car features (especially for rentals) before you leave so you aren’t distracted by bells and whistles … or things like how to turn on the windshield wipers.
  • Know where you are going – set up your navigation before you go and preview your route so last minute changes or exits don’t sneak up on you and create an unsafe driving situation.
  • Keep things within hands reach of you, and your passengers. Don’t be constantly distracted by kids asking you to hand them things. Put together a travel bag or organizer with snacks, drinks, wipes, tissues, games and activities before you leave. Do the same for yourself and keep tissues, lip balm, or whatever you may be reaching for nearby.
  • Don’t even think about checking your phone! It isn’t worth the risk. If you need to check texts, email, notifications, etc., just take a rest break!
  • Plan your entertainment and stops in advance. Our favorite way to keep everyone calm and engaged in the car to prevent distracting meltdowns is by listening to audio books. Audio books really make time and miles fly. I also think about how long it might take to get where I am going and plan meal breaks in advance as much as possible.

What advice do you have for staying safe on the road? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

My Car Does What Logo

This post was sponsored by the National Safety Council and the University of Iowa, who have partnered to launch the MyCarDoesWhat campaign.

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