I was leafing through a national magazine recently and noticed a two-page ad for the Ford Taurus. I stopped to read the copy, and was pleased to see radar-based active safety features among the vehicle’s options – right up there with SYNC hands-free communications, a 12-speaker audio system, and several other enticements.
I subsequently learned that Ford offers active safety - adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support, and blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert – not only on the Taurus, but also on the even lower-priced Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan (and other models) as well as on the Lincoln MKS and MKT, where those features could be expected. Chrysler offers blind spot monitoring and rear cross path accident-avoidance systems on Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country models, and offers adaptive cruise control on the Chrysler 300C. These are not budget vehicles, but neither are they in the luxury category, so active safety features are beginning to move down-market, and that is a good thing for the industry and for car buyers.
It will be especially good if the safety features prove popular, given the impact of volume on cost, but that may be difficult to determine. Ford’s blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert, for example, comes in a $2,000 package that also includes push button start, auto high beams, rain-sensing wipers, and a Sony sound system. Will it be safety or sound that sways the buying decision? It may not matter if drivers who appreciate the benefits of safety features take the time to tell their friends. There are a lot more safety features in the development pipeline – all with the potential to save lives. What will it take to make them more widely available?