Tech Trends

Car safety tech that Grandpa could only dream of

By: Nelson Smith on October 25, 2016
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Vehicle deaths are going down each year, even as we collectively drive more kilometers and travel faster than ever before. This is a very good thing.

But we’re not necessarily becoming better drivers. Total collisions continue to go up, and roads in Canadian cities are more congested than ever. The main reason that deaths and injuries are down is because advanced safety features are becoming more common.

And these aren’t your grandfather’s safety features. Lord knows that man probably didn’t even wear his seatbelt. My grandpa once told me “seatbelts kill more people than they save” without a hint of irony.

So in honor of Car Safety Month, here are six impressive safety features my grandfather couldn’t have dreamed of.

Backup cameras

A commercial driver once told me 90% of collisions were from backing up. Thus, backup cameras have made their way into every commercial vehicle, and most regular ones too.

Now I can easily back into a spot perfectly, impressing the other drivers who don’t realize I’m relying on my camera. So they’re left rolling their eyes at my smug look of satisfaction.

Lane monitoring

Switching lanes can be dangerous, especially on a busy highway. That’s where lane assist sensors come in. If you’re leaving your lane and the car senses something in the way, it alerts you with beeping loud enough to wake a hibernating bear (warning to drivers with sleeping babies on board!).

Lane monitoring can also make sure you don’t fall asleep while driving, which is a very real problem in rural parts of the country.

Auto braking

We’ve all seen the commercials for auto emergency braking. A child is playing and mindlessly darts in front of a car. The vehicle stops automatically, saving the little guy’s life. Pretty impressive stuff.

Even if auto braking helps me avoid one tiny little fender bender, it’s worth it. Nothing is worse than dealing with the other driver after a collision that you caused (to say nothing of dealing with the increased premiums that could result).

Driver attention detection

I’m not going to lie. This one’s a little creepy.

Technology exists that can figure out whether a driver is feeling tired. And if it thinks you’ve actually fallen asleep, it will take control of the vehicle. When this feature kicks in, I really hope the warning indicator on the dash is a cup of coffee.

Passenger seatbelt detector

This technology has existed for at least a decade now, but I still think it’s neat how my car knows when I have a passenger vs. when I don’t.

In related news, I am apparently very easily impressed.

I’m also somewhat embarrassed to admit I once tried to trick my car into thinking I had a passenger by using a very large stuffed animal. Bait not taken. Must be a weight thing.


The only real autopilot system available today is with Tesla, which are ultra-fancy cars with price tags approaching $100,000 in Canada. Most of us mere mortals can only dream of having safety features like that.

They’re coming soon though. Tech giants like Google and Apple are working on the self-driving car problem, and as you read this, there are Teslas zooming through the streets using only the autopilot system.

The future is now, people.


These car safety features aren’t just for show. They’re developed to make the average driver safer, which should translate into lower car insurance premiums over time. Cool technology and saving money? Those are two things I can get behind.