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Consumer Reports Tests New Vehicle Safety Features

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(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – When you are buying a car, there is a lot to consider, but safety should be right at the top of the list.

Car makers are coming out with a number of interesting, new safety features, but which ones really make a difference?

Sizing up safety features is a key component of Consumer Reports’ testing program.

These days, testers are evaluating a lot of new features.

Nissan has come up with an expanded notion of a rear-view camera. It offers 360-degree visibility so you can see all around the vehicle.

“These systems can prove really beneficial in tight quarters and especially if you have kids that might be around your car, because they give you a double check of your surroundings. The key to using them, though, is you have to kind of train yourself to look at the monitors,” Jennifer Stockburger from Consumer Reports said.

Another new safety feature Consumer Reports likes is a blind-spot alert system that lights up when a vehicle is in your blind spot.

However, some other safety features are not impressing testers.

“Pre-crash warning systems. What they do is alert you if you’re approaching a vehicle ahead of you or something in front of you. What testers found, though, is that they were a bit overly sensitive, and they were going off even in safe, normal driving conditions,” Stockburger said.

Consumer Reports said a far better feature is automatic braking systems like Volvo’s City Safety.

It can stop your vehicle if you get too close to something in front of you.

Lane Departure is another new feature, which is designed to signal if you’ve drifted out of your lane.

However, testers found it also can be too sensitive.

“We found that they gave too many warnings when you were driving on secondary roads, where you cross and approach the center line more often,” Stockburger said.

Of course, while some of these safety features are a plus, none is meant to take the place of keeping your eyes on the road.

There are two safety features Consumer Reports considered as a must: electronic stability control and antilock brakes.

Both features will be standard on every 2012 vehicle.

When shopping for a used car, Consumer Reports said to be sure to look for one that has both.

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