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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

5 Ways 'Smart Car' Technology Makes Our Roads Safer and Our Lives Easier

Our cars are smarter than they have ever been. I'm not talking about the fact that we have blue tooth technology, GPS navigation or the fact that our cars can even drive themselves. I'm talking about the features that are available for passenger vehicles that will help cut down on accidents and help you keep up with vehicle health and maintenance. I own a 2018 Jeep Cherokee that is loaded with bells and whistles ... or so I thought. I recently got to take part in the Toyota EnTOURage program which is designed to highlight high tech vehicles and to put the spotlight on a local entrepreneur. I also got the opportunity to drive a Toyota Camry Hybrid 2019 over the course of a week. The features included in the Camry definitely showed me how newer car technology can keep us safe, which will make our roads safer.

The Toyota EnTOURage program.

I was invited to participate in the Toyota first-ever Entrepreneurial EnTOURage. The program is designed to celebrate and support current and future African-American entrepreneurs by utilizing bloggers and journalists to share local entrepreneurs’ roads to success through storytelling. The entrepreneur I highlighted was Ruth Ramsey of Ramsey & Associates Design and Our Health Matters magazine. Ruth has been an entrepreneur for over 20 years helping small businesses with their marketing plan through Ramsey & Associates Design, and has published stories designed to help people live a healthy lifestyle through 'Our Health Matters'. You can check out her magazine here: Ruth and I drove around the greater Kansas City Area in the Toyota Camry and got to experience many of the great features that it has to offer. Many of these features work to make our roads safer and can make life easier for business professionals.

1. Smart Cars Are Safer cars.

Vehicles like the Toyota Camry offer all those cool features like most smart cars such as a moon roof and heated seats. You also get smart features such as voice control over your music (which pumps out of some impressive JBL Speakers) whether it's Sirius XM, Pandora or Spotify, hands-free calling from our smartphones, and hands-free access to climate controls. These features allow us to do more in our vehicles without having to take our hands off the steering wheel which leads to less distracted driving. Other smart features like 'Smart Stop' enable your car to start slowing down automatically if there is traffic ahead and to bring your vehicle to a complete stop if there is a hazard that gets in front of your vehicle. Technology such as Lane Tracing Assist uses the traffic lines in the road to help keep you in your lane. The car will give you an audible alert and nudge the car back in its proper lane. The heads up display which appears on the windshield further reduces distraction showing the current speed limit in the area you are driving and what your current speed is.

2. Electric/Hybrid Cars are Better for the Environment.

Studies have shown that electric/hybrid cars like the Toyota Camry produce less harmful global warming emissions than gasoline-powered cars. Hybrids still produce emissions, but the emissions they produce are 50% less than gasoline-powered vehicles.

3. The option to have a Self Driving Car

I know many of you are reluctant to have a car that can drive itself, but I've always been a fan of self-driving cars since I saw my first episode of Knight Rider. Smart car features like Toyota's Smart braking system lets your car apply the brakes if the car sees a sudden stop ahead. This feature came in handy when driving around with Ruth and on a recent trip to Wichita. I just set the cruise control and the Toyota would slow down when there was traffic ahead, and speed up when traffic thinned out. I love to parallel park, but for those of you who hate it, you can use self-parking, which will park your car for you.

4. Your Car Can Keep you informed about its Health. Vehicle maintenance is much easier thanks to the smart technology built in most smart cars such as the Toyota Camry and the help of the Toyota Owners app. No more wondering what's wrong with your vehicle with the ambiguous "Check Engine" light. Now your vehicle and the app keep you informed about almost every aspect of your car. You get low fuel alerts, monthly reports on your vehicles health, maintenance reminders and when problems occur, the smart technology will tell you exactly what's wrong and give you directions to the closest dealership.

5. Smart Cars Make it Easier to Connect our Smart Devices. Google and Apple are adding their features to our vehicles with CarPlay and Android Auto. Toyota allows you to use CarPlay which allows you to access iOS apps from the in-dash display of your car. You can use Apple Maps or Google maps to navigate to your favorite destination. Get touch access to music apps such as Spotify and Pandora. If you need Internet access on the go, smart cars like the Toyota Camry allow you to use the built-in WiFi hotspot. Yes, you can have the Internet wherever you go, but a WiFi hotspot helps keep you safe from hackers on the Internet.

Advancements with smart cars like the Toyota Camry have surpassed my expectations of what types of technology can be integrated into cars. If you haven't already invested in a smart car, you might want to consider one for your next purchase. Smart cars have proven they’ll minimize hassle, keep us safer, and help us enjoy the drive.

Do you own a smart car? What features do you frequently use in your smart car?

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