Driver Knowledge Tests

Aftermarket products you can add to your old car to boost safety

Recent advances in connected and automated vehicles could reduce traffic accidents by 70 per cent in the next 25 years, according to a study published in the Journal of Traffic and Transportation Engineering. Modern vehicles are coming out with all kinds of advanced technologies that have made them safer than ever before. In fact, data compiled by the Australian New Car Assessment Program shows that 92 per cent of new vehicles sold in 2019 were awarded a five-star safety rating thanks to various life-saving technologies.

Your best bet is to buy a new vehicle that comes with them straight from the manufacturer. But, if you cannot afford a new vehicle or you don’t want to part with your old one for any reason, there are various aftermarket devices you can add to boost safety in your car regardless of how old it is. 

Blind-spot monitoring system

The blind spot is feared by drivers everywhere. You’ve probably encountered moments when you’ve glanced in the mirror when you want to change lanes and initially missed other cars in your blind spot. It’s quite easy to do so, especially if you have a car or SUV with a bulky window frame or pillars that obstruct your view. This is where a blind-spot monitoring system comes in. It replaces your mirrors with a conveniently placed display, and externally mounted cameras provide a completely unobstructed view of everything that’s going on in your blind spot. Blind-spot monitoring systems also use sensors placed in areas such as the front, rear, and sides of your vehicle and have buzzers or indicators that show proximity to other vehicles. 

Head-Up Displays (HUD) 

You may not realise it, but every time you look away from the road while driving to glance at your phone or press buttons on your dashboard puts you in great danger. If this sounds like a thing you constantly do, consider getting a HUD system installed. HUDs have been used in jets for a long time and now the technology is available for vehicles. They project all the information you need into your line of sight – your speed, engine rpm, map, and temperature control gauges – so that you never have to look away from the road. HUDs also come with Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to wirelessly cast smartphone apps, eliminating the distraction of handling your phone when driving. 

Rear-view cameras

Whether you want to improve your visibility out the back or you want to make it easier to back into tight parking spaces, rearview cameras can be a key safety addition to your vehicle. Studies have shown that rearview cameras installed in your door handle, licence plate, or via bracket can reduce backing crash involvement rates by up to 36 per cent, especially in older drivers. However, for cameras to be of any help, the car must have a high quality and conveniently placed display that can be seen clearly from every angle regardless of the time of day or night. Beyond preventing accidents, rearview cameras can also come in handy when you do get into an accident, particularly when paired with a dashcam (a forward-facing camera). You can use footage from your cameras to prove your innocence in the event of an accident and get the compensation you deserve. 

Tyre safety monitor 

One of the most basic vehicle maintenance operations that every driver can do is checking tyre pressure. At minimum, you should be checking your tyre pressure every month, but with a tyre safety monitor, you can keep tabs on the condition of your tyres at all times. Tyre safety monitors typically come with sensors that are mounted on the wheels and a wireless receiver that transmits the information to your dashboard. Some of them can even be paired with a smartphone app that lets you know when any of the tyres has a slow puncture or when you need to top up. 

Media centre

A Bluetooth-enabled media centre can provide a direct connection to your phone for your music, podcasts and making hands-free calls. It also may display navigation functions. Some systems even connect with Amazon Alexa. These systems with voice control can help you keep your eyes on the road rather than being distracted trying to push buttons or change settings.

Just because you own an old car doesn’t mean that you can’t have the revolutionary safety technologies available in newer cars. With a little research, you’ll find many potentially lifesaving aftermarket add-ons you can install in your old car to prevent accidents as well as boost its resale value.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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