More people will be traveling this Thanksgiving weekend than any other year since 2007, according to AAA. The organization is projecting 46.3 million people will be traveling more than 50 miles this weekend, and 89 percent of those – 41.3 million – will be traveling by car.
If crowded roadways weren’t enough, the weather forecast calls for snow along the Eastern Seaboard on Wednesday, the busiest travel day of the year.
That’s why this weekend more than most, advanced safety features are a welcome addition for the long car ride. It also doesn’t hurt to have a little entertainment along the way, as long as it’s not distracting.
Below – in no particular order – are five modern vehicle features we’re thankful for during the holiday travel season.
Gone are the days of navigation systems that rely on non-updatable computer programs for their maps. While it was cool to not have to look at a paper map or printed directions from MapQuest.com, the maps in the navigation systems of yesterday were not much different. Nowadays, aside from getting you where you need to go, GPS allows you to know exactly where you are and can even provide real-time map and traffic updates. Thankfully, a lot of smartphones today have this feature also.
Integrated Infotainment Systems
Speaking of smartphones, it’s no question that they have now become an important part of our lives, storing everything from our emails and social media accounts to our beloved music libraries. A long road trip isn’t complete without some good tunes, so it’s great to play music from your personal library, access the many stations on SiriusXM or have Pandora make a playlist for you. All of which can be accessed on the dashboard. Mobile phone integration is also being taken to the next level thanks to features like Siri Eyes Free and Ford SYNC, which allow you to pick your playlist, make phone calls or send messages with voice commands so you don’t have to take your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road.
This feature has allowed many people to back into and out of tight spots – included the much-maligned parallel parking – without making their passengers get out to tell them how much room they have. This will come in handy when you show up to a 20-person Thanksgiving dinner where 13 cars need to fit in the driveway. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced in March that back-up cameras would need to be standard in all vehicles by 2018.
Lane Departure Warning System
Unfortunately, some people get bored on long driving trips and will get distracted or, even worse, start to doze off. That’s where this feature, which was once only available in high-end luxury vehicles, is becoming increasingly standard. Some manufacturers are taking it a step further with technology that actually corrects your vehicle for you, such as Toyota’s Lane Keeping Assist. Additionally, the Honda LaneWatch™ system adds blind spot protection by displaying what’s on your right on the screen in the center dashboard whenever the right-turn signal is engaged. The system can see cars from one or two lanes to the right and up to 50 yards behind the vehicle.
Collision Avoidance System/Emergency Brake Assist
While technically two separate features, the concept for each goes hand-in-hand. Many times, during a situation that requires an abrupt stop, drivers fail to apply the right amount of brake pressure, which is where Emergency Brake Assist comes in. Other times, drivers fail to see an imminent collision with enough time, which is where the Collision Avoidance System comes in. This system warns you of a threat and can apply the brakes for you if you don’t respond in time. While it sometimes may not avoid a crash altogether, it can definitely reduce the severity. Major manufacturers such as Honda, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Audi have some form of this technology available in most of their vehicles, which means that wide-spread adoption isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Tell us what vehicle features you’re thankful for this season in the comments section below.
The team at Tier10 wishes you safe-travels this Thanksgiving weekend.