Many car shoppers are concerned with driving at night. Automakers know this, and they are creating new technologies to help. We're breaking down several cutting-edge car safety features to help shoppers find a new car that makes night driving a little easier.
Adaptive Cruise Control
While adaptive cruise control isn't strictly a nighttime driving aid, it certainly helps. Most adaptive cruise control systems scan for traffic ahead and can adjust your speed accordingly. The result is, as you approach another car at night, adaptive cruise will automatically slow you down if you're closing too quickly. Several modern systems can even bring the car to a complete stop.
Blind Spot Monitoring
Blind spot monitors can help during the day or at night. They use radar mounted on a car's side to scan for nearby vehicles that may be approaching a driver's blind spot. If a driver signals while a car is in the blind spot, the system will flash a light or sound a chime to announce the car's presence and suggest waiting to make the lane change.
Driver Alert Systems
A growing number of cars include driver alert systems. No, they don't prod the driver if they notice he is dozing off. But they can sound a chime or display a warning light on the dashboard if they detect a driver's steering is becoming erratic. Lexus's system even examines the driver's face to see if he is dozing off.
Forward Crash Alert
Like adaptive cruise control, forward crash alert systems monitor what's in front of you. But unlike adaptive cruise, they generally don't stop you before you hit something. Instead, they sound a chime or flash a light to allow you to regain control, which is helpful if you have become inattentive or are driving down a dark road and don't notice a car slowing down ahead of you.
Lane Departure Warning
These systems alert you if you're leaving your lane without signaling. No, they're not trying to convince you to use your turn signals. Instead, they're letting you know you might be drifting from your lane, which is common when drivers get tired. Lane departure warning systems can use chimes, lights or even vibrations in the driver's seat to let you know you're drifting from your lane. Some systems lightly brake one wheel to help put you back on course.
Many modern luxury cars offer night vision, a highly advanced car safety system you might expect in a plane rather than a car. Most systems use infrared technology to project images of the road ahead onto a screen mounted in the car's gauge cluster. Some systems even automatically detect pedestrians near the road, highlighting them to help you see them better and avoid them as you get closer.
An increasing number of cars offer swiveling or active headlights. The benefit of these is that, as you turn the wheel, the lights also turn to illuminate the direction you're heading. Swiveling headlights are especially useful on dark streets, in bad weather and -- most importantly -- on curvy roads in rural areas that may not have good lighting.