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Your Car Does This - Bringing Your Car's Safety into the 21st Century

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LEARN MORE: My Car Does What? - Up To Date Hi-Tech Safety Features

National Safety Council February 29, 2016; Who says you can’t teach an old car new tricks? Whether you purchased your car yesterday or have been cruising in the same ride for decades, aftermarket technologies can help upgrade your vehicle’s overall safety. We’ve highlighted some of the top technologies that you can add to your car to keep you and your passengers safer on the road.

Back-up Cameras

There are multiple reasons the U.S. government will require all new vehicles to have back-up cameras starting May 1, 2018. One of them is that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 58 to 69 lives will be saved each year (not including injuries prevented) once the entire on-road vehicle fleet has rear-view systems.

What does a back-up camera do?

Alternatively referred to as rearview camera, rear visibility system or wireless back-up camera, back-up cameras enable drivers to see a wider view of what’s behind them when backing up. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, back-up cameras can reduce the blind zone by about 90 percent on average.

Back-up cameras activate when the driver shifts into reverse, displaying a video feed of the immediate area behind the car.

How do I add a back-up camera to my car?

If your car was built in the past decade, it may already have a compatible dashboard display screen that can be used with aftermarket back-up camera kits. Your dealer or local auto or electronics store may be able to install a back-up camera for you; or, you may be able to purchase a system from an auto vendor store that you can install yourself.

If you opt for a DIY approach, be sure to get the right information from the right sources. Also note that the project will take about three hours and will require a fair amount of research and expertise.

Here are a few helpful articles on how to properly install an aftermarket back-up camera to your car:

Blind Spot Monitor

Blind spot monitors (BSM) are one of the newer safety features to hit the market. This feature will warn you if a car – or sometimes other objects – is in your left or right blind spot.

When activated, warnings will appear in your sideview mirrors or in the windshield frame. Some advanced versions of this feature may give you an audible warning (or other type of warning) if you use your turn signal and there’s a vehicle in your blind spot.

Blind spot monitors may also be called blind spot information systems, blind spot detection or blind spot warning.

How do blind spot monitors work?

Most blind spot monitors use radar sensors, but some use cameras. The sensors are usually located under the rear bumper or sideview mirrors. The sensors monitor approximately one lane width on both sides of your car.

How do I add a blind spot monitor to my car?

Due to the complicated nature of an aftermarket installation process, it’s recommended to have a professional install your blind spot monitor. For many kits, the process entails manipulating vehicle wiring, so we recommend that you work with an experienced technician.

There are a few different retrofit kits available on the market. Here are resources describing the installation process:

Parking Sensors

Parking sensors alert you when you come within close proximity of objects surrounding a car. A series of warning sounds – usually beeps – will alert you when you come too close to an object. This technology can be very useful when backing into tight parking spots.

How do parking sensors work?

Parking sensors use electromagnetic or ultrasonic sensors to read the distance of objects surrounding the car. The closer the car gets to a stationary object, the more frequent the alerts become.

Note that parking sensors aren’t capable of detecting cars or other moving objects about to enter your backing path – this is a task that’s better suited for a feature such as rear cross traffic alert.

How do I add parking sensors to my car?

There are several aftermarket parking sensor kits available that don’t require you to drill into the car or manipulate internal wiring. It‘s always recommended that an experienced auto professional install additional safety features; however, many non-invasive parking sensor kits can be installed on your own.

Before adding parking sensors to your car, be sure to research the following items:

  • Your vehicle: Make sure that the parking sensors you purchase are compatible with your car.
  • Number of sensors: Typically, the number of sensors that come in kits may vary. Ask yourself if you only need rear sensors, or if you would benefit from a front and rear sensor combination.
  • Quality: There are many parking sensor products on the market – but not all of them will ensure the same level of performance and safety. Before you purchase, make sure that you thoroughly research the quality of the kit. When in doubt, consult your local auto technician to understand the best options for your vehicle.