A Guide to the Latest Car Safety Features

Car safety progressed slowly since the late 1800s. The three-point seat belt came in 1959, and the first airbag arrived in 1973. Now, a rapid, tech-driven safety revolution is happening. Explore the latest safety features.

Explore the evolution of car safety, from historical milestones to today’s cutting-edge features, fostering accident avoidance, driver assistance, and passenger protection. 


car safety



Getting Started Start Young

Long before your teen gets their permit, spend time driving with them to teach the basics and safety principles.

Reinforce Learning:

Show interest in your teen’s driving course. Discuss their lessons to help reinforce what they’re learning.

Continued Coaching

  • Keep Taking Turns Behind the Wheel:
  • Continue coaching even after your teen gets their license. Regularly ride with them to observe and provide guidance.

Lead by Example:

Your child watches your driving habits. Demonstrate good driving practices to set a positive example.

Vehicle Safety

  • Put Them in a Safe Car:
  • Prioritize safety over flashy cars. Choose a safer vehicle with good safety features, which may also lower insurance premiums.
  • Distraction-Free Driving
  • Promote Distraction-Free Driving:
  • Encourage your teen to avoid distractions, including texting. Recommend apps that mute notifications while driving.
  • Responsibility and Accountability

Give Them Skin in the Game:

Inform teens about potential financial responsibilities in case of an at-fault accident. Consider creating a teen driver contract for clear expectations.

Passenger Habits

  • Teach Good Passenger Habits:
  • Emphasize the importance of being a responsible passenger. Encourage avoiding distractions and blocking the driver’s view.

USAA Support for Teen Drivers

Get Ready for the Road:

  • USAA offers Roadside Assistance and accident forgiveness protection to support you and your teen.
  • Transition to Independence:
  • When it’s time for your teen to have their own policy, USAA provides a smooth transition with potential discounts.
  • Car Insurance Discounts
  • Driver Training Discount:
  • Save by completing a basic driver training course.

Safe Driving Discount:

  • Maintain a good driving record for over five years and save on premiums.
  • Good Student Discount:
  • Your teen can save by achieving good grades.
  • Multi-Vehicle Discount:
  • Add another vehicle to your policy and potentially lower your premium.
  • USAA SafePilot Discount:
  • Eligible state residents can save with the safe driving program, USAA SafePilot.
  • Evolution of Car Safety Features

Historical Perspective

Since the late 1800s, advancements in car safety have been gradual. Notable features like the three-point seat belt emerged in 1959, while the first airbag hit the market in 1973.

Technology-Driven Safety Renaissance

Today, a technology-driven renaissance in car safety is underway, introducing advancements at a rapid pace. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the latest safety features shaping today’s automotive landscape.

  • Accident-Avoidance Safety Features
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS):
  • Prevents wheel lock-up during braking in slippery conditions, ensuring traction and steering control.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control:
  • Maintains a set speed and adjusts it to maintain a safe following distance, even stopping in traffic.
  • Adaptive Headlights:
  • Adjusts light direction, enhancing visibility during turns or hills.

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB):

Detects potential crashes, alerts the driver, and applies the brakes if necessary.

Blind Spot Warning (BSW):

Acts as a second pair of eyes, alerting to objects in the blind spot.

Driver Assist Safety Features

  • Drowsiness Detection:
  • Encourages breaks based on driving data, promoting alertness.
  • Head-up Display:
  • Displays crucial data in the driver’s line of sight for enhanced focus.

Lane-Centering Assist (LCA):

  • Provides ongoing steering assistance to keep the vehicle in its lane.
  • Lane-Change Warning:
  • Alerts if a lane change is signaled while another vehicle is in the blind spot.

Lane-Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane-Keeping Assist (LKA):

Warns against drifting over lane markers and automatically corrects drifting.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC):

Detects lack of traction during extreme maneuvers, assisting in maintaining vehicle direction.

Forward Collision Warning (FCW):

Provides visual and audio warnings of impending frontal collisions.

Left-Turn Crash Avoidance:

  • Warns of potential dangers during left turns at traffic lights and intersections.
  • Pedestrian Detection:
  • Alerts to pedestrians crossing the vehicle’s path, with some systems automatically applying brakes.

Driver and Passenger Safety Features


Rapidly inflates to cushion occupants during a crash, strategically located throughout the vehicle.

Cabin Camera

Allows observation of the backseat without turning away from the road.

Rear Seat Reminder System:

Issues an alert if a rear door is opened before driving, preventing the accidental leaving of a child or pet.

Interior Trunk Release:

Glow-in-the-dark levers allow trunk opening from the inside in emergencies.

Parking Car Safety Features

  • Parking Assist:
  • Utilizes sensors for automatic parallel parking.
  • 360-Degree Camera Parking:
  • Provides a bird’s-eye view for better maneuvering and avoiding obstacles.

Safe Driving Apps

Safe driving apps, while not safety features themselves, aid in cultivating better driving habits.

USAA SafePilot:

Utilizes GPS and sensors to assess driving behavior, offering discounts based on safe driving practices, with potential savings of up to 30%.


In summary, while technological advancements in car safety continue to accelerate, the primary responsibility remains with drivers to ensure safe driving practices.