Car safety features like stability control, adaptive cruise control, LATCH anchors for baby car seats, rear-view cameras, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist can help prevent accidents and ensure safe transportation when driving with young children.
Are you upgrading to a new family car? Safety is non-negotiable in such a situation because you now have young children. When I had my first baby, we upgraded to a Honda CRV, which ticked the boxes of all the essential car safety features a family car should have.
However, determining which features will matter most over the next three to five years can be tricky, especially if this is your first experience. In this article, I will walk you through these child-friendly car safety features and how they can make your family life easier and more enjoyable.
Essential Car Safety Features For Family Cars
In the table below, I present the critical features that should be present in your chosen vehicle and why they are important in your everyday driving with the kids.
|Car Safety Features
|Why It’s Important
|ISOFIX or LATCH
|A quick and safe way to secure child safety seats instead of seat belts.
|Adaptive cruise control
|Automatically regulates brakes during long highway drives or in heavy traffic.
|Lane departure warning
|Detects when your car drifts out of its lane, keeping you alert while driving.
|Lots of storage space
|Allows you to install multiple booster seats without congesting the rear sitting area.
|It detects the potential of a crash, applies the brakes automatically, or assists you with braking to prevent collision
|Blind spot monitor
|It warns you of vehicles or objects when changing lanes, merging, or turning to avoid accidents
|It helps you avoid collisions and injuries when backing up or parking.
|Automatic crash notification
|Automatically sends a signal for help in the event of an accident
|It stops and retracts the car windows if any obstruction (such as the children’s hands) is felt in its operation.
Let’s look at these features in more detail and their role in ensuring your young ones are safe in the car:
1. ISOFIX Or LATCH
Credit: Doona UK & Ireland
ISOFIX is the standard attachment point for child car seats in passenger cars. It is also called Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) in the U.S.
These anchors provide a secure way of attaching your child’s car seats to the vehicle, so you don’t have to fret about improper installation.
The LATCH system consists of the lower anchors, which are located in the rear seat bight, where the backrest and seat cushion meet, and the top tether anchor, which is located on the rear shelf or the back of the seat and is used to secure the top tether strap of your child’s car seat.
With these attachments on your vehicle seat, it is easier to install child seats correctly without relying on seat belts, which the American Academy of Pediatrics says can be less secure.
Fortunately, most modern vehicles come equipped with LATCH or ISOFIX systems.
2. Adaptive Cruise Control
Modern cars have adaptive cruise control technology. It would help if the family car you have chosen to buy has this feature. This is an advanced driver-assistance system that automatically adjusts the vehicle speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead. It works with sensors such as cameras and radars.
Controlling brakes and looking out for vehicles ahead while keeping an eye on your baby in the back seat can be tiring.
With this feature, your car automatically manages speed and distance to prevent rear-end collisions in traffic, giving you enough time to focus on your kids and surroundings.
- The adaptive cruise control on many cars does not work efficiently at night or during bad weather.
3. Lane Departure Warning
A car powered with a Lane Departure Warning (LDW) will monitor the vehicle’s position within lane markings without you having to worry about it.
So when you drift unintentionally, the vehicle alerts you through visual, audible, or haptic warnings so you can correct your course.
This feature is particularly useful when you’re carried away with focusing on your kids in the rear seat.
A 2018 study revealed that family vehicles with LDW had significantly lower involvement rates in crashes of all severities by 18 percent, in those with injuries by 24 percent, and those with fatalities by 86 percent.
So, this is a safety feature for kids in cars to prioritize when selecting a family car.
4. Lots of Storage Space
Now that you’re driving with children, ample space is one of the best things you’d love in any family car.
You need enough room in your car to properly install the car seat(s) and store strollers, diaper bags, and many other baby gear without cluttering the interior.
While space and storage do not categorically fall under “features,” they are also important considerations for driving with younger children.
Imagine a car with a rear width that cannot accommodate three booster seats when you have three children.
So, go for a family car with ample storage and seating area to easily have organized packing and take car seats in and out of the vehicle without hassle.
Little wonder why many parents prefer to buy midsize or larger SUVs and minivans like the Honda Odyssey, Subaru Ascent, and Chrysler Pacifica.
These vehicles are designed with three-across rear seating in mind.
5. Emergency Braking
When considering safety features important for family cars, it’s hard to ignore the emergency brake system. It triggers an automatic brake application when your car detects an imminent collision with another vehicle, pedestrian, or obstacle.
You never know when you’ll need this rapid response. It will drastically mitigate accidents because the vehicle’s speed will reduce or stop entirely at the point of impact.
6. Blind Spot Monitor
As parents, we can’t pretend that we do not often need to focus on multiple tasks and may not always notice adjacent vehicles when driving.
A Blind Spot Monitor is another crucial car safety feature because it uses sensors, cameras, or radar to detect vehicles in your blind spots.
It helps you avoid accidents when changing lanes, merging, or turning.
Some car models like the Audi Q7 and Genesis GV80 have monitors showing 360-degree surround live feed.
This gives you better vision in case kids are in the rear area of your car, so you knock them down when you reverse.
7. Rear-view Camera
Credit: Conduite Facile
The rear-view camera is another safety feature to prioritize in familiar cars.
It offers an extra set of eyes and provides a live video feed outside your vehicle’s rear to you on the dashboard screen when in reverse gear.
This scan greatly helps minimize the risk of accidentally running over or striking a child playing behind the vehicle.
8. Automatic Crash Notification
Vehicle telemetry systems like Automatic Crash Notification are not present in all cars, but manufacturers charge more for this technology on high-end vehicles.
It’s a huge plus if the family car you pick has this feature because it can be a lifesaver in an accident where you can’t reach your phone or get help.
The alert system sends crash data to emergency services if a vehicle is involved in a moderate or severe front, rear, or side-impact crash.
It will transmit information like GPS location and crash severity when such a crash happens so you can get help.
9. Window Switches
Credit: Kia Worldwide
The power window’s auto-reversing system (ARS) is another safety feature that can be helpful when driving with younger children.
With the main control switch on the driver’s side, you can easily lock windows when your child plays or leans on the buttons.
Also, the ARS works by stopping and retracting during operation when it contacts any obstruction, such as your child’s hands.
Car Safety Tips for Parents
Even when you have a family car that has important safety features, these extra safety tips can further help keep your children safe when traveling:
- If you’re traveling long distances, you can distract your child with soft hand-held games or music so they don’t play with the secured components of their seats.
- Children can distract you, shouting or kicking the driver’s seat as you drive by. So, teach them not to do so, and when they do, pull over into a safe place and address the problem.
- If it helps, chat with your child while you drive to pass the time.
- Remember to get your child in and out of the car on the curbside, away from traffic.
Are there other key safety features you think of that should also be prioritized in a family car? Feel free to share your ideas in the comment section.