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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013

The #1 safety feature every car needs...

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


With all the new safety features in cars coming soon, there's one that remains the make-or-break feature you need, particularly if you have younger drivers.

First though, the new Chevy Impala has been getting great reviews. It has an accident avoidance system that will bring your car to a full and complete stop when it senses a car in front of you suddenly stops, according to The Detroit News. It even brakes your car if it notices a hazard in front of you.

Meanwhile, Mercedes has a driverless car, at a very different price point, that's completely road ready. This is not some vaporware like the Google driverless car. This is the real deal, though it's not available for sale in the US because of our current laws.

My daughter will be driving in 316 days. That thought terrifies my wife whenever I talk about it. For any parent, a kid starting to drive is a terrorizing thought. My son has 7+ years until he starts. The difference in safety features he'll find in 7+ years will be mindblowing compared to what my daughter will find next year.

I read another article about a Nissan selling a $6,000 car in India. The thing that struck me is we forget how improved our cars are on the safety issue. The car in India doesn't even have a driver's side airbag! That kind of thing would never fly in the United States.

Today's cars are better at limiting injury or fatality when in an accident. That's due in large part to electronic stability control (ESC). I was talking with people at Consumer Reports and they told me do *not* buy a car for a kid if it does not have ESC on it. Remember that one rule and you'll keep your kids safe as they learn to drive.

Finally, GM is again in the news because they've announced a $30,000 electric-only car that can go 200 miles on a charge. Why 200 miles? Because that's the point at which most people get over range anxiety -- the fear they'll be riding around and run out of charge. By setting the price at $30,000 -- a couple thousand below the average price Americans pay today for cars -- they're eyeing a mass market for this kind of ride.

 

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