Consumer Reports recently tested several advanced safety features and revealed which are useful and which may be more distracting than necessary.
Features like automatic braking were praised by the company, as this system only kicks-in in an emergency and can potentially prevent accidents. On the other hand, features like lane departure warnings were seen as somewhat unnecessary, as they were too sensitive and could distract the driver on roads where the lanes are naturally close together.
Rear-facing cameras got a mixed review. The guide said they were excellent for parking, but shouldn't be relied upon to spot small children or other low-lying obstacles behind the car. Some models have wide-angle rear cameras that improve the field of vision, and these were more useful, said Consumer Reports.
The guide also said that all cars should have side-curtain air bags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes. The latter two will be standard on all new cars starting next year.
Extra safety features are nice, but they can't really help a driver if the accident is caused by a flaw in their vehicle. Drivers who don't keep up with their auto maintenance, for example, could have a problem with their brakes or fail to replace their worn tires, which could then lead to an accident out on the road.