Automakers unveiled a number of safety features at this year's North American International Auto Show that will make it easier to see when backing up, avoid whiplash in crashes and make it easier for emergency responders to do their jobs, the Detroit News
reports. Luxury automakers are adding more air bags, back-up cameras, lane-departure systems and adaptive cruise control, which automatically slows a vehicle if it gets too close to another. The 2009 Hyundai Genesis, which is trying to compete for luxury buyers, features an electronic active head restraint system that automatically moves toward the head when it senses a crash. Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus also offer this to prevent whiplash that often occurs in a rear-end collision. Trucks, also, are showing off safety improvements. The 2009 Ford F-150 will have roll stability control and "trailer sway control," which slows the vehicle to get control of a trailer being towed. Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC both touted rear back-up cameras as an option for their 2009 model pickup trucks, which addresses concerns in Congress about the number of children killed or injured by drivers backing up Congress is poised to tell federal regulators early this year that they should consider new standards for rear visibility. Chrysler's 2009 Dodge Ram and the Dodge Journey will have ParkSense Rear Park Assist, which uses sound waves to help detect obstacles in and around the back of the vehicle, supporting its newly added backup camera. Chrysler also added its Enhanced Accident Response System to the new truck, which in the event of an accident makes it easier for emergency personnel to see and reach occupants by turning on the interior lighting and unlocking the doors after air bags are deployed. It also shuts off the flow of fuel to the engine. According to the Detroit News
, other automakers are improving materials so vehicles hold up better in crashes. The 2009 Honda Pilot will use 52 percent high-strength steel to reinforce the vehicle in crashes, more than twice what's in the current vehicle.