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Safety counts! Assessing safety features when buying a car

Posted on 07 August 2018

assessing safety features

If you’re in the process of buying a car you’re probably busy considering all the features and fittings that you’d like to invest in. Are you keen on a bigger engine or fatter tyres? Or perhaps you’re prioritising interior space so you can fit in the kids, the dog, and the weekly shop.

Everyone approaches car buying with their own unique set of priorities. If you haven’t already, it’s worth adding safety to your list. Choosing the safest car you can afford is an investment in your own personal wellbeing and that of your passengers. And because it’s a key part of how insurance companies calculate their rates, it could also save you money.

New and older cars have a range of features that can make them safer to drive, safer for you during a crash, or even less likely to be involved in a crash. Here are four key features to look out for when buying your next car, and some useful information to make you more aware of what you’re buying.

Airbags
Airbags have been around since the 70s, and have demonstrated their effectiveness by spreading to the point of being installed throughout the car. Airbags protect passengers or drivers in crash situations by inflating and then deflating as contact is made. This slows down the speed and force of impact.

Airbags now protect the front and back of cars, as well as providing side impact protection and protection in case of rollover. In some new car models airbags are also available to protect the exterior of the car. When buying a car it’s worth considering the location of airbags and the protection they will offer the driver and passengers in the front and back of the car.

Airbags aren’t completely safe, but they are safer than the alternative. In order to avoid airbag injuries it’s important to follow these steps. Always make sure you are wearing a seat belt and avoid sitting too far forward in your seat or too close to the steering wheel. Avoid covering the airbag and never put a rear-facing child restraint in a front seat with a passenger airbag active. Make sure you read you car’s manual to find out all about the airbags onboard.

Seat belts
Seat belts are of course standard in all modern cars so thankfully it’s not necessary to check whether your car has them. The more modern your car, the more high-technology your seat belts are likely to be. Newer models include features such as improved webbing elasticity; retractors that lock automatically during a crash and in some cases tighten the belt immediately before a crash; and adaptive restraints and load limiting technology that adapt protection to occupant size.

One consideration is the middle seat in the back and whether it has a lap belt or a 3 point fastening system. 3 point safety belts are much safer than lap belts, so if you expect to regularly use the middle seat you might find it worth choosing a car that offers this added protection.

If you have young children and need to instal car seats, the inclusion of ISOFIX child restraint anchorage is also an important consideration. The ISOFIX system makes it easier to install a car seat correctly and therefore improves the safety of car seats in vehicles where it’s included. It also makes it easy to remove and replace the car seats should you want to move them between cars.

Steering
Electronic stability control (ESC) helps you to correct potential over or under steering; stabilise your car during emergency maneuvers; and improve steering and handling on low traction surfaces such as gravel, ice or wet roads.

The system uses a combination of anti-lock braking and traction control. Sensors detect when the car is deviating from the driver’s intended path and take corrective action through braking at an individual wheel level to set the car back on track.

An Australasian study conducted by Monash University found that ESC systems deliver a 32 percent reduction in risk of single vehicle crashes in which the driver is injured (68% percent for four wheel drives).[Source: righter.govt.nz]

Braking
Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) allow a vehicle to achieve a shorter stopping distance in a panic stop, especially in low traction conditions. This can result in not impacting other objects or at least not hitting them as hard.

The system kicks in when it identifies that the car is hard braking and a wheel has locked resulting in the vehicle starting to skid. It then pumps the brake much faster than a driver could (by applying and releasing it repeatedly) and brings the vehicle to a stop faster. Because the wheels don’t lock, it also allows the driver the make emergency maneuvers because the steering wheel can still be turned.

ABS does not protect you from driving too fast or skidding on corners due to excessive speed. If you’re not familiar with ABS you can expect to feel vibration in the brake pedal or hear a thumping noise when it activates. Being prepared for these sensations will help you react appropriately in an emergency.

Whatever features your next car has, it’s good to know that some smart technology will be helping you to stay safe on the roads. Download your FREE Inspection Checklist [Click Here]

If you’re ready to make a purchase and would like to speak to the team at Enterprise Cars about finance, call one of our branches today! [Click Here]