When you become a parent, excitement takes on a new meaning. It often involves trying to prevent your little ones from unintentionally hurting themselves — whether they’re toddling down the sidewalk and wind up taking a spill, wiping out while biking or inexplicably flinging themselves off playground equipment.
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That’s why it shouldn’t be a surprise that more than 1,200 moms told Cars.com in a survey that they’re practically obsessed with safety. When car shopping, these moms listed it as their No. 1 concern, according to our survey results.
Safety features come in all forms. If you’re shopping for a new family hauler — talk about the ultimate Mother’s Day gift — check out some of the favorite safety features from the parents on Cars.com’s editorial team.
1. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Why Mom needs it: I’m a better driver when I’m in a test car equipped with Apple CarPlay (I own an iPhone) because the system allows me to be focused on the road while seamlessly listening to a podcast, running the navigation to some destination and fielding a never-ending stream of text messages from my family. My personal car doesn’t have Apple CarPlay and I find myself picking up my cellphone (do as I say, not as I do) to deal with all the incoming distractions.
2. Automatic Emergency Braking
What it is: This safety feature senses an impending collision with a slowed or stopped car ahead of it and brakes to slow or stop your car. Twenty automakers have agreed to make this technology standard on new cars by September 2022.
Why Mom needs it: Who couldn’t use an extra set of eyes on the road? And that’s just what this system does — looks for and reacts to potential collisions. Some systems also have pedestrian detection, which scans the roads for people and cyclists, in addition to cars. Make sure to get a car with a top-rated automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection system. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the 2019 Honda CR-V, 2019 Subaru Forester, 2019 Toyota RAV4 and 2019 Volvo XC40 were among the best systems in the compact SUV class.
3. In-Car Heatstroke Prevention Tech
What it is: Three automakers offer reminder systems that alert parents that there may be a child in the backseat of the car. These systems aim to prevent in-car heatstroke, which happens when a child is left behind in a hot car.
Why Mom needs it: On average, 38 children die each year because they were left behind in a parked car, according to NoHeatStroke.org. GM offers the Rear Seat Reminder system that uses a chime and a message in the instrument panel to alert the driver to check the backseat if the rear doors were opened at the start of a trip. Nissan’s Rear Door Alert system will honk the horn several times to get the driver’s attention if the rear doors were opened. Hyundai’s Rear Occupant Alert system uses sensors to monitor the backseat for movement; it will alert the driver via the instrument panel by honking the horn, flashing the lights and sending an alert to Hyundai’s app.
In-car heatstroke can be prevented, and these in-car systems, which vary in how they work, can help harried parents and caretakers remember that there’s a sleeping little one in the backseat.
4. Backup Camera
What it is: It’s exactly what it sounds like. A camera mounted on the vehicle’s rear allows you to see what’s behind the car while in Reverse.
Why Mom needs it: Admit it. You’ve always wanted eyes in the back of your head. The backup camera is about as close as you’ll get to it. Backup cameras are now standard on new vehicles and provide an extra set of eyes when backing up — preventing you from running over a kid’s bicycle or worse.
5. Rear Seat Belt Tattlers
What it is: Speaking of eyes in the back of your head, this little icon makes it seem like you might have some. Basically, it shows which rear seats have their seat belts buckled. It’s so simple that it’s brilliant.
Why Mom needs it: When they were younger, my boys would tell me their seat belts were buckled when they really weren’t. This little icon allowed me to quickly see just who was buckled in and who wasn’t. I recently drove the 2019 Lexus UX 250h with this feature and was reminded just how great it is to have that extra bit of info.
More From Cars.com:
- This Mother’s Day, Clean Mom’s Car
- You Are Appreciated: Favorite Car Features for Dear Mama
- High-Tech and Low-Tech Ways to Prevent In-Car Heatstroke
- What’s the Best Compact SUV for 2019?
- 4-Wheel Confessional: Quiet Moments in the Car Make This Mom’s Mother’s Day
6. Extra Sets of Latch Anchors
What it is: Automakers are federally mandated to have two sets of lower Latch anchors in most vehicles. But what many parents would really like is an extra set of lower Latch anchors to allow more flexibility when it comes to installing a car seat with Latch anchors.
Why Mom needs it: The Latch system is supposed to make car seat installation easier, but often the lower Latch anchors can only be found in the rear outboard seats of a car. More automakers are catching on that parents want to install their car seat in the middle seat — with Latch anchors. To help with this, some car manufacturers are installing one extra lower Latch anchor in the middle seat — or even an extra set. Of course, parents can use a seat belt to install a car seat in the middle seating position — provided that this seating position is approved for their respective car seats. Always consult your owner’s manual before installing a car seat.
7. Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
What it is: Backing up in a busy parking lot can be stressful, but rear cross-traffic alert can ease that anxiety by alerting you when a car is about to drive into your path.
Why Mom needs it: I’m all about tools that make your life a little easier, and this is one of them. Keep in mind that rear cross-traffic alert systems vary. Some will beep when a car is entering your path, but they won’t tell you where the car is coming from. Others will flash arrows to let you know that a car is approaching from one direction versus the other.
Whether you’re a soon-to-be mom, a new mom or an old hand at this whole motherhood thing like I am, safety tech will only get you so far. One safety feature you come standard with is the ability to be a cautious driver who treats every other driver on the road like they also have little ones to get home to — so use it.
Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.