Safety By Design

How to Choose a Safe Car

Choosing a car is more than whether it looks good, goes fast, or is economical. But, unfortunately, none of those features are helpful if the proud new owners become road crash casualties.

One should consider three distinctly different types of safety features when choosing a new vehicle. First, personal security in and around a stationary car may be critical for potentially vulnerable individuals, such as women traveling alone. Then there is the potential risk of collision injury to be considered, but this is a two-fold issue. Naturally, it would be best to consider your safety and your passengers’ safety. In addition, we should all think carefully about the risk of injury to other people outside our vehicles.

The first level of safety for any vehicle is that your remote control, or key, should initially unlock only one door. If it can open all doors simultaneously, there is always the risk that someone with evil intentions could enter the vehicle or reach in and grab something as you are getting in.

Regarding accident safety, the essential feature of any vehicle is seat belts. Still, one thing to look for — even though this is becoming less and less common — is that all seat belts have three anchorage points and that none of the middle seats have only ‘lap straps.’ So-called ‘two-point’ belts are ineffective and can fail to save a person’s life when a three-point belt would have done so. Does it need to be said that a person who doesn’t wear their seat belt is gambling with their life? People in this category seem to forget they are not in sole control. Other drivers, driving badly, can and do cause serious crashes.

Airbags are an excellent supplement to seat belts, but that is precisely what they are — a supplement. A seat belt should never be left off in the false hope that an airbag is all one needs. Plenty of people have died because of that false belief. Suppose you are buying a new or nearly new car. In that case, it is very wise indeed to look for one that has not the usual ‘front’ airbags but also ‘side’ airbags that protect one’s pelvis and torso and ‘curtain’ airbags that protect the side of one’s head in a side impact or a roll-over situation.

[Head restraints – text needed] One excellent source of information regarding the safety value of head restraints in various car makes is given at the I.I.H.S. website.

Crash Test results are one obvious way to help choose a car that may one day be responsible for keeping you and your family alive. You can also enter details of a specific make and model of car at’s S.A.F.E. Car Program website. But there are several things you should always consider when the time comes to change your vehicle.

[Impacts and Crumple Zones – text needed]

As can be seen, there are many things to consider in the above three safety categories. We will shortly provide this information in a checklist so you can print it out and take it when you look at new cars.

Information on choosing a safe new car may also be found on the I.I.H.S. website.