A collision avoided, with remarkable safety systems

by Rob Tiller

Self-driving cars are getting here– not all at once, but by bits and bytes.  When I got my Mazda CX-5 a few weeks ago, one of my priorities was accident avoidance and damage minimization, and I took every safety option available.  I’ve already gotten good value.  Just a few days ago, in a dense traffic situation on Capital Boulevard, when I was looking to move to the right lane , the car ahead of me unexpectedly stopped.  My CX-5 beeped and then stopped — before I could apply   the brakes.  We were about six inches from the car ahead.  

I  checked the Mazda manual, and it does not promise such collision avoidance (the “Smart Brake Support” system claims only to minimize damages in such emergencies), but I’m telling you, it happened.  And was I happy!  No ugly crushed metal, deployed airbags, police, insurance, deductibles, or collision repairs.  Thank you, Mazda engineers!  

After this, I spent a  little time with my owner’s manual, and got clearer on various systems.  My ex, a classic sports car, was extremely fun to drive, but had relatively few creature comforts — no nine speaker Bose stereo system, no adjustable lumbar support, no dual climate controls. More important, no warnings when you veer out of your lane or when there are cars in the blind spot, no variable cruise control, and no warnings of oncoming cars when you’re starting to back out of parking spots.  This last warning feature particularly  delighted me, as the most dangerous thing I do on a daily basis is get into and out of parking decks, and you just can’t always see oncoming cars.

I’ve also been discovering other hidden talents in the CX-5.  It accepts a variety of vocal commands, such as play the radio or navigate home.  The navigation system (which I would not have opted for, but it came with other options) can receive instructions for a new destination by voice.  Also, the cost of ordinary operation is about half as much as my ex.  I admit, part of me misses my 911, but mostly I’m glad to be in a new car relationship.