In Part 1, I shared some of the emotions that come with a driving daughter. I have heard from many friends going through the same crucible, and I have received excellent advice from friends whose kids are already on the road. I appreciate it all. A couple of themes repeat:
1. Expose new drivers to different types of vehicles.
2. Expose new drivers to different driving conditions -- from rural roads, to city streets, to the interstate, and in between. Experience behind the wheel and in different conditions makes for a more confident and comfortable driver.
3. Driver's education, while not a state requirement, is a great benefit. And....
4. Perhaps the best advice I got, ban the phrase, "I know" from the car while you are teaching your kid how to drive!
At the top of the features list for new drivers -- at least for the parents of new drivers -- is safety technology. The developments brought to market in the past few years make vehicles exponentially safer now than when we started driving. In fact, in most recent years much of the revolutionary technology has become standard equipment, where before it might have been available only as a very expensive option.
If we track the history of auto safety, the improvements we have seen in the past two decades are amazing. From the advent of popular cars to around 2000, we saw the introduction of safety technology from cruise control to anti-lock breaks, as well as the seatbelt and airbags. But even in recent years the design of these old-school safety features has improved -- seatbelts and airbags are now smart and engage in a variety of ways, depending on their nanosecond responses to crash profiles.
The newer generation of safety features on cars focuses heavily on Driver Assistive Technology. While self-driving cars get a lot of attention and stoke SciFi dreams, DAT features are already hear and make driving safer for everyone. What kinds of things does DAT bring to the driving experience? It is really any technology that removes or minimizes the negative impact of human error. Electronic Stability Control, Blind Spot Detection, Forward Collision Warning, and Lane Departure Warning are all examples. More sophisticated tools include Rear and Frontal Cameras, Automatic Emergency Breaking, and Rear Cross Traffic Alerts. If you want a more robust description of what is out there, you can look this list over. It runs from auto sensing windshield wipers to night vision, and everything in between!
These features were cutting edge just five years back, but now many mainline brands from Chevy, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota -- and more -- have some as standard equipment. In fact, as of May 1, 2018, a reverse camera is now standard equipment on every new car sold in America.
This makes selecting a safe car for a new driver a bit more complex. It's no long as simple as finding an old clunker. The injection of safety technologies means that if you look at cars built between say 2012 and today you can find a host of important Driver Assistive Technology. The key is matching the features you think are important with your budget and the other things you want in a vehicle. The good news is that the market has moved automakers to make these features a priority, so you have a wide array of options.
Next up...some resources to navigate all the options for selecting a new driver's car.