Auto News, Behind the Wheel

5 Safety Features Every Parent Should Look for When Buying a Car

August 31, 2018
While researching the best vehicles to keep your family safe and sound, you’ve likely read dozens of reviews, browsed IIHS ratings, and looked at NHTSA grades. But as safety technology improves, so too do the number of recommended vehicles on those “safest car” lists, leaving you with more of a selection than ever before.

We call that scenario a “double-edged sword.” With too many options at your fingertips, how do you know which vehicle is right for you? Do you go with a Top Safety Pick+ SUV? What about that 5-star minivan? Ahhh!

Allow me to help you, stressed-out parent. Here are 5 essential automotive safety features you should look for when picking your family’s next vehicle.

Safe Exit Assist An exclusive feature designed by Hyundai, Safe Exit Assist is the guardian angel every parent of a toddler needs. As your kids gain independence, they’ll begin doing things on their own—including opening the car door without assistance. Safe Exit Assist automatically locks the rear doors when approaching vehicles are detected, eliminating the risks of a nightmarish catastrophe.

Safe-Exit-Assist The 2019 Santa Fe and numerous new Hyundai models come with available Safe Exit Assist, so be sure to ask your Hyundai dealer for details.

Convenient LATCH Child Seat Anchors Nothing about installing a child’s car seat is fun. You’ll agonize over the angle. You’ll sweat through your shirt squeezing it into the middle seat. You’ll run through the entire quit-YouTube-retry cycle multiple times. Finally, after an hour of hassles, your work will be done.

But if you’d chosen a vehicle with convenient LATCH points, you would have been out of there in minutes, free of sweat and without a long list of “how-to” videos in your YouTube history.

Toyota seems to build the most accommodating vehicles for child seats, as many 2018 and 2019 models earn the highest grade of “Good” in IIHS reviews. Here are some recommended Toyota models that have easy-to-use child seat anchors:
  • Toyota Avalon – Numerous LATCH positions make it a breeze to install an infant seat.
  • Toyota RAV4 – Anchor spots are abundant and not located too deeply in the seat folds.
  • Toyota Highlander – Multiple anchors are located above and within the mid-row seats.
  • Toyota Prius – All three back seats have anchors, including the middle.

Teen Driver Technology If you’ve got a high-schooler with a fresh new license, you’re probably petrified every time they get behind the wheel. You can’t watch over their shoulder all the time, but you can keep an eye on their driving habits with Chevy’s Teen Driver system.

Built into many new Chevrolet and GM vehicles—including the Cruze, Malibu, and Equinox—Teen Driver allows parents to put restrictions on their teenage drivers.
  • Set custom speed alerts that automatically sound alarms and display warnings when the vehicle goes over your pre-selected speed limit.
  • Limit the maximum speed to 85 mph.
  • Set a maximum volume on the audio system.
  • Automatically mute the sound system until all passengers click their seat belts.
  • Limit the ability to turn off other safety features, like Side Blind Zone Alert and Forward Collision Alert.
You can review how your teen driver is doing with the industry’s first and only in-vehicle report card. Track their speed, distance, and alert count, all in an effort to find an excuse to ground them for months.


Auto Emergency Braking & Pedestrian Detection With school in session, school buses are everywhere and children are running amok, unaware of their environment. Having a vehicle with an adequate forward-collision and pedestrian-avoidance system can be a lifesaver.

By 2022, most major U.S. automakers will include automatic emergency braking and/or pedestrian detection standard on their vehicles. Currently, this tech is standard or available on certain models, including the following:
  • Buick LaCrosse Premium
  • Toyota Avalon (Toyota Safety Sense is standard on all Toyota models)
  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Nissan Murano
  • Hyundai Kona
Discuss your interest in an AEB system with pedestrian detection when you speak to your car dealer—they’ll help you out.


Rear Seat Reminder Each summer, dozens of children are accidentally left in vehicles. Rear-seat reminder systems seek to eliminate those cases. Sensors detect people and pets in the rear seat, then alert you to check the back before exiting the vehicle. Some systems will even alert you through a special app.

Currently, you can find this type of technology in a few models, including the Hyundai Santa Fe (Rear Occupant Alert), Chevy Tahoe (Rear Seat Reminder), GMC Canyon, Cadillac Escalade, and Nissan Pathfinder (Rear Door Alert). More models will begin including this feature in the future.

For more tips and helpful advice about anything “car,” connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Or simply tune into my blog for more goodness every month. Safe travels!

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