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Future Toyotas will automatically turn off, shift into Park to help absentminded drivers

The tech builds on the warnings already present in Toyota's new cars.

2020 Toyota Corolla
Accidents happen, and Toyota thinks it can help mitigate 'em with some new tech.
Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Even the most thorough people occasionally goof and forget to do something important, which is why Toyota's adding two new systems to its future vehicles that can help prevent an absentminded mistake from turning into something worse.

Toyota announced this week that it will debut two new technologies in its vehicles starting in the 2020 model year. Neither is really earth-shattering, but they should help keep modern technology from coming back to bite in a potentially devastating way.

The first of these two systems is Automatic Engine Shut Off. Available on "most" 2020 model-year vehicles, this one works in conjunction with the automaker's keyless ignition system. If the vehicle is left running for an extended period of time, it'll just turn itself off. Currently, Toyota's cars do warn drivers about accidentally leaving a car running, but it won't shut the engine down. This new tech could be a boon to any hybrid owner who may inadvertently leave a vehicle when the gas engine isn't running, under the idea that the car is totally off.

The second system is called Automatic Park. It's as straightforward as it sounds: If a driver exits the vehicle without putting it in Park, it will do so automatically. This one requires a vehicle that relies on electronic means to set both the transmission and the parking brake, but Toyota didn't say which models would get it. The idea here is to prevent any freak roll-away accidents -- as again, with hybrids occasionally sitting silent upon reaching a destination, there's always the chance something might go wrong.

While it's unclear what vehicles these systems will end up in, odds are that Toyota will make mention of these systems as 2020 model-year vehicles are introduced. After all, why create new systems without the intent to publicize them?

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