Which Car Safety Features are the Most Important?

When buying a new car, one of the first things you’ll be looking at are the safety features on offer. We all want our vehicles to be as safe as possible, for ourselves and our passengers. Newer cars tend to have more safety features, but are they worth the extra cost? We’ve looked at some of the most common safety features found in vehicles below, so that you can get a better idea of what choices are available.

What Makes a Car Safe?

Over the last few decades, it can certainly be argued that cars have gotten safer. Vehicles are now built to provide better protection should accidents occur, they are typically stronger, and there are loads of modern electronic safety systems on the market which can reduce the chances of an accident happening.

In terms of the structure of modern vehicles, cars these days often have bigger crumple zones, meaning the majority of the energy of a crash is absorbed before it reaches the occupants of the vehicle. Cars can normally withstand an impact better due to cutting edge construction methods and new types of metal being used too.

When it comes to electronic safety systems, these can sense where your car is in relation to its surroundings, from the road to other vehicles. Safety features include warning you of potential collisions, and even intervening on your behalf should an accident seem imminent. Many of these features have to be installed in new cars, as it’s required by law. 

Common Safety Features Car

Common Safety Features

There are a number of safety features that the majority of cars will have installed, though some only apply to relatively new vehicles. We’ve explored six of these features below:

1. Seatbelts

All cars these days will include seatbelts. In a crash, a seatbelt is designed to secure you in your seat, rather than get thrown around, or even outside of, the car. Essentially, a seatbelt can prevent you from suffering a serious injury. Some of the latest vehicles on the market also have features that work alongside seatbelts to protect you, such as pre-tensioners, which will tighten the seatbelt if the car’s sensors believe the vehicle is about to crash.

2. Airbags

An airbag, like a seatbelt, can stop you from forcefully hitting any part of the vehicle’s interior in a crash. They’re only fully effective if you’re wearing a seatbelt, and airbags will only deploy if there is a severe impact. Most modern cars will have at least six airbags to protect the heads of the driver and passengers, and some vehicles will also have airbags within the seatbelt, to protect the person’s chest on impact.

3. Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

The electronic stability control system in a car can prevent skidding when you go around corners. Clever sensors are able to detect when a wheel is about to skid, and the ESC system will apply the brakes on that wheel, or reduce the power. That way, you won’t fishtail around corners if you’re driving a little bit too fast, or if the road conditions are not optimal.

4. Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)

The anti-lock braking system should prevent your vehicle from skidding, if you find you need to suddenly brake heavily. As the name suggests, the ABS stops the wheels from locking up and skidding – when sensors detect heavy braking, the brake is automatically released and applied in turn. 

car safety features

5. Driver Assistance

The term driver assistance covers a wide range of safety features that monitor the vehicle’s surroundings and warn the driver of any potential dangers. So if you’re driving too closely to another vehicle, the driver assistance system should let you know. And if you have an advanced version of this system, it may take over control of the car, should you fail to respond to the warning.  

6. Traction Control

When your car accelerates, you have a higher chance of losing control of the vehicle. Traction control ensures that the wheels of your car don’t lose their grip and spin excessively, by reducing the power being sent to the wheel having the issue. This safety feature is particularly useful in wet or icy conditions, when wheels are more prone to losing their grip on the road.

The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP)

You may not have come across a Euro NCAP rating before, so don’t necessarily know what it means. The programme was set up to improve vehicle safety, buying cars anonymously and testing their safety features. The assessments may include things like crash tests, and an overview of the features a car has, analysing the effectiveness of these.

The European New Car Assessment Programme will then give a star rating, of up to five stars. This allows a buyer to easily determine how safe one car is compared to another. Though bear in mind that the criteria has become more stringent over the last ten years or so, therefore a five star rating today may carry more weight than a five star rating from a decade ago.

Overall, the Euro NCAP can be a great way to compare the safety ratings of the vehicles you’re considering purchasing. You’re bound to feel a lot more comfortable buying a car if you have a guarantee that it’s among the safest vehicles on the market.

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