Car safety features
As cars continue to be one of the most popular forms of transport it’s important that drivers and passengers feel safe and secure on the road. It’s crucial that we continue to drive down the risk of a crash and when crashes do happen, that the potential for serious injury is reduced. Modern cars have many safety features which fulfil this need and generally cars today are safer than they’ve ever been. So what should you be looking out for when thinking about what safety features you want your car to have?
You can research the current safety rating of the make and model of car you’re interested in. Most cars must now have independent tests completed to determine passenger safety when driving before they can be approved. Euro NCAP is a common body who carry out these tests. You can search for the specific make and model of car you’re looking to buy on their website and check its safety rating. Euro NCAP ratings also analyse the safety for different people associated with the car, including an adult occupant, child occupant and pedestrians – information that can be pivotal in deciding what vehicle make or vehicle type to go for depending on your circumstances and uses for the car.
Seat belts have been around for many years but that doesn’t mean they haven’t evolved at the same pace as the cars themselves. Smart seatbelt reminders, now installed as standard in most cars, indicate whether a passenger has done up their belt. Pre-tensioners take up all the slack in a seat belt a split second after a crash to reduce the potential for whiplash and movement. Load limiters also reduce the amount that the seat belt can pull across your body.
Airbags are now installed in car dashboards and the steering wheel to protect driver and passenger heads and chests in the event of a frontal crash. Knee airbags have also been developed to protect the legs and pelvis, significantly reducing the risk of a severe injury. There are also side curtain airbags that protect the heads of both the front and the rear passengers in the event of a side-on crash. Most airbags are now dual stage airbags that inflate at different rates depending on the severity of the crash and this is all measured by sensors monitoring the deceleration rates of the car. It’s important to note that the number and positioning of airbags vary depending upon manufacturer and vehicle, so if this is something you’re worried about remember to ask the dealer or manufacturer.
Electronic stability control is one of the most important developments in car safety in recent times. It can reduce the engine power and even operate individual brakes if it detects the car starting to skid or lose control due to the driver’s inputs (anti-lock braking systems or ABS). It is now a requirement by law for all manufacturers to install this technology in all new cars. Different manufacturers refer to electronic stability control in a variety of ways, which can be confusing so it’s worth looking up the specific name for the make you are interested in.
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Active headlights have additional lights that activate on the left or the right for cornering to light up the bend as you go round. More advanced models allow the lights to be adjusted as the driver steers. Some even have cameras that can detect other cars ahead, and the lights automatically adjust to provide maximum illumination without dazzling other drivers.
The Crumple zone is at the front of the car and is designed to increase the amount of time it takes for a car to come to a stop following a crash. In turn this should reduce the amount of force felt by the driver, which can majorly reduce the chance of an injury to the driver and passengers.
Child car seats have developed hugely with ISOFIX seat mounts being built into the car seats as opposed to having to use the adult seat belt. This makes it easier to install and are intended to reduce the risk of mistakes being made when they’re fitted.
For adult passengers, the head restraints present on car seats reduce the chance of whiplash injuries and should always be adjusted to suit the height of the driver or the passenger.
When buying a used car, it is worth checking the history of the vehicle to ensure that the car has not been written off or damaged in the past. There are several services designed to ensure that you are buying a car that is road-worthy and safe. Cars should come with a full service history and extra attention should be paid to the condition of the dashboard lights, steering, brakes, headlights and tyres.