Drive On!

The last two decades have seen many exciting changes in the automobiles we drive. Here are 20 changes designed to make our driving experiences pleasurable ones.

  1. Intelligent headlights. High-beam headlights are going by the wayside. Intelligent LED headlights adjust themselves for every night lighting situation—even oncoming cars. Headlights focus away from oncoming vehicles and onto the roadway’s edge. They also sense and brightly illuminate pedestrians and bicycle riders.

  2. Bluetooth connectivity. Hands-free cell phone conversations, streaming MP3s and internet radio channels piped into your car are products of Bluetooth technology. This enables drivers to talk on their phones with both hands on the wheel and their attention focused on the road.

  3. Autonomous driving or driver assist packages. Tesla, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Volvo, Cadillac, Audi, Lexus and Honda have differing levels of autonomous driving packages available. From the simplest (adaptive cruise control, emergency automatic brakes and lane assist) to the most complex (self-driving vehicles) and all possibilities in between, these technologies could end up being be the most profound innovation in automotive history.

  4. Air bags all around. In an effort to alleviate serious injuries, front, side-torso and head, rear, center, knee, seat-cushion and seatbelt airbags now form a cushioned layer of protection in high impact automobile accidents.
  5. Backup cameras and sensors. Data shows that 300 people (many times children) are killed and 18,000 injured each year in back-over accidents. Backup cameras are expected to lower this number substantially. They also come in handy when backing into a tight parking place.
  6. Electric cars. Hi-tech batteries now provide up to 238 miles of driving distance before a recharge and provide plenty of power for interstate driving. Gasoline/electric hybrids give drivers the best of both worlds.
  7. Quad-zone temperature control. Husband too hot? Wife too cold? Passengers a little of both? Everyone can now dial in his or her own private Shangri-La with four separate temperature zones.
  8. Blind spot detection systems. The “blind spot,” every driver’s nightmare, is a thing of the past with electronic detectors that alert drivers to cars hidden from sight in either side-view mirror.
  9. Continuously variable transmission. Seamless acceleration, higher mechanical efficiency and better gas mileage make the CVT a great choice for new car buyers.

  10. Run flat tires. Strong sidewalls enable motorists to drive up to 100 miles at up to 50mph on a punctured tire. Drivers can drive to the shop or the safety of home to change a tire.
  11. Automatic parallel parking. Ever pass up a parking place because it required you to parallel park? Never again. Sensors find the appropriate parking place, you put the car in reverse, work the accelerator and brake and let the car steer itself neatly into place.
  12. Smart keys. Not only can you start your car with the key in your purse or pocket, it can also automatically adjust your mirrors, seat, steering wheel, climate control and radio station.

  13. Tire pressure monitoring systems. Monitoring and maintaining the proper air pressure in your tires boosts performance, increases safety and tire life, and provides optimum gas mileage. It also helps keep you from having to change a flat tire in a driving rainstorm.
  14. Electronic stability control. Few drivers know exactly what to do in an emergency stopping or avoidance situation. ESC automatically applies the brakes to each individual tire and adjusts engine speed, giving you more control when trying to avoid a collision.
  15. Radar cruise control. One of the major drawbacks to conventional cruise control is constantly adjusting it to traffic flow around you. Radar cruise automatically adjusts your car’s speed to the driver in front of you and takes a lot of the hassle out of long-distance interstate driving.

  16. GPS satellite navigation. It doesn’t matter if your husband refuses to stop and ask for directions, he won’t need to. You may never get lost again with GPS satellite navigation.

  17. Collision avoidance systems. Distractions occur with even the best drivers. It’s good to know that your car is always alert for obstacles in your path and ready to apply its own brakes in a split second.
  18. Heated or cooled seats. Four or five days each year, you might need to warm your car seat here in Central Florida, but as for cooling, now that’s another story. Stay cool, calm, and collected, top to bottom.
  19. Parking sensors. Never ding your fender again. Warning lights flash as you come close to an object. The closer you get, the more intense the warning.
  20. Dash cams. Dealer-installed and aftermarket dash cams give you the credibility you deserve if you’re involved in an accident.
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