Toyota is one of my favorite manufacturers for including safety features.

Cars are an interesting part of our lives. They are simultaneously one of the most fun, most useful, and most deadly machines that most of us will ever interact with. Everyone has them and we work to match them to our personalities. Below the surface though, when it comes time to buy a new automobile features like color, number of speakers, and even the brand name begin to fade away as we consider safety features. 

Buying a car is generally a practical decision though most of us chose to update and customize them to express our own uniqueness. While this is more prevalent in some vehicles - trucks for instance, even my Kia Soul has a Padres wrap around the steering wheel.

But aside from self-expression, car safety is another thing that should concern car owners like you. Gone are the days when “safety features” pertain only to features such as traction control, seatbelts, and airbags. These are the basic safety features, and you can expect them to be present in virtually all cars on the market these days. Plus, most safety features aren't available as aftermarket add-ons - while customizations are pretty much exclusively the domain of aftermarket dealers.

However, there are a couple major exceptions for specific use cases. Two of the biggest are tires and lighting kits. Lights can be fun ... or they can be practical for instance, dealers such as the guys over at XK Glow offer work lights to help illuminate job sites or a trail at night ... but they also offer some sweet options to add extra bling to your ATV, truck, or car.

When it comes time to buy a new vehicle though, most safety features are best installed by the manufacturer since they are so closely integrated into the overall system. Some brands are better than others, but Toyota is one of my favorite brands for including an excellent suite of safety features standard on most of their new cars. Here's a few that I find most important!

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)

Most of us have been on a road trip with several of their closest friends. Going to a new place presents all sorts of new sights to see and sounds to hear. Unfortunately, some of these amazing sights can be distracting and can take our attention away from the road. When a driver is distracted, they are more likely to drift out of their lane or rear-end another vehicle. The Autonomous Emergency Braking system or AEB is a feature that keeps the car in the proper lane as well as watches out for any approaching vehicle in front or behind in case the driver loses control of the vehicle.

Rear-view Camera Mirror

You are probably familiar with rear-view-cameras but the next generation of technology is to integrate the rear view screen directly into the mirror. This makes it easier to use and safer too, since the driver isn't looking down at the dashboard. Instead, he has his head up and can look at objects in the mirror as well as those directly in front of him.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

How smart is your smart car? The Electronic Stability Control or ESC is a sure way to ESCape the bad fate that a freak accident may bring (pardon the pun).  It’s a feature that calculates the structures, vehicles, and moving objects around your car as well as the condition of the road or ground that you’re on to predict the possibility of a skid. If it detects one, it makes a few adjustments and works hard to keep your tires steady on the road.

Making sure that your car is safe at all times is an important way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. So what are you waiting for? Look for these features in the new car that you’re planning to buy. If you can’t find them, you can find ways to add them to your existing vehicle. Aside from keeping you safe, these features might also help in reducing the premium for your car insurance.

Smart Cruise Control

This is my number one MUST HAVE safety feature and frankly it is a deal killer if a car doesn't have it. While cruise control itself is a great feature, being able to match the speed of the vehicle in front of you makes driving on long road trips both safer since you won't run into them ... but also safer since driver fatigue is reduced, allowing for overall safer operation of the vehicle.