Smart Vehicle Technology for the Holidays
For the ninth technology, a connected car is a life-saving technology to give this holiday season. As we inch closer to the complete list in our 12 Technologies of Christmas blog series, discover why including safety features in your new car purchase are a must.
by Ken Dulaney
As I watch TV these days, I marvel at all the commercials that expect one spouse to give the other a car! They all show someone walking out of their home to see a new vehicle with a giant red bow on top. I think my wife would have a few words with me if I was to surprise her with one and they wouldn’t be words of joy!
But there are things happening today in vehicle technology that might make such a gift much more palatable. This revelation came to me just the other day when I was in a crowded Costco parking lot. I backed out of a parking spot and was almost free when the car came to a sudden stop. It’s the kind of stop you feel if someone has rear-ended your vehicle. I turned to my wife and said, “I think we’ve been hit!”. But she said, “No, the car saw something and slammed on the brakes. It startles you, but it must have seen someone walking behind our car.” I put my heart back in my chest and realized that our life savings had avoided a lawsuit.
Safety Features as an Insurance Policy
The way we are now looking at the various safety options in our car is as an insurance policy. A few thousand for the extra features buys several sound accident prevention technologies. At risk would be one’s retirement savings. How much might that be? Statistics say that a tech worker in 2019 averages $145,000. Retirement planners say that 80% of one’s salary is a good benchmark to meet retirement living needs. Given a retirement at 65 and an expected lifespan for men and women rounded up to 80, 15 years of retirement would demand $1,740,000 in savings. Let’s say the safety extras cost $5,000 (generous amount) and the life of the vehicle is 3 years on a lease. For $1,667 you protect your savings and remove the anguish of an injury accident.
What to Choose
There are several key features of value. Lane-departure warning prevents one from drifting over a lane line without signaling. Some will pull the car back in the lane. The rear-view mirrors will also indicate there are vehicles in a blind spot. Enhanced cruise control not only keeps the car at a constant, safe speed but will adjust the speed depending on the speed of the vehicle ahead. While initially intended for the open road, it is extremely useful in stop-and-go traffic where tedium can be a distraction. However, improvements are needed in how close to follow (typically safe distances still permit others to squeeze into your lane). Front, side, and rear cameras help avoid hitting pedestrians and vehicle damage while parking. Self-driving car technology seems most mature in Tesla cars but will constantly improve in others (although the driver is always asked to stay alert and in control).
If you are thinking about a new car, be sure to include every safety feature offered. The payback in terms of accident avoidance and ensuring protection of one’s savings against lawsuits is a solid rationale for purchase. And, if it turns out to be a holiday gift, be sure to request the bow from the dealer.