Here are a few features to look out for when you’re talking to a dealer or browsing car lots or websites.
Keeping yourself and your family safe on the road is a huge priority – especially if you’re buying a car for your recently-licensed teen or a runabout for an elderly driver.
There are a number of safety features that have been introduced into some vehicles to help minimize driver and passenger injury, or help prevent accidents in the first place. Here are a few things to look out for
Long gone are the days of a single driver airbag. Cars nowadays can include: front airbags that protect drivers and front seat passengers in head-on collisions, side curtain airbags that protect the head and torso in a t-bone or side impact, and knee airbags that protect the legs.
Some modern cars have sensors that can inflate the airbag to accommodate how close or far away a driver or passenger is sitting, or not deploy at all if there is a child in the front seat. Remember, if children are shorter than 148cm and/or younger than 12 years old, the safest place for them is the back seat in a car seat or booster seat.
Traction control is run by a computer in the car that senses how fast each wheel is moving and uses a hydraulic system to pump the brakes of the wheel or wheels that are spinning too fast, resulting in less slippage on surfaces like gravel or dirt.
Similar to traction control, ABS (anti-lock braking system) uses the same wheel speed sensors as traction control to identify if wheels are locking up during heavy braking. This prevents too much skidding and allows the driver to maintain steering control.
Crumple zones are the structural areas (usually in the front, sometimes in the rear) in a car that absorb energy if a car is in a crash. They are made to fold and bend in a certain way to reduce the impact on the people in the car by diverting the crash’s energy to other parts of the car. The less force acting on the human body, the less likely injuries will be serious. Though crumple zones are standard for most newer cars, it never hurts to ask - especially if the car you're looking is an older model.
Adding an extra field of view can prevent a number of accidents from happening, and helps with reversing into tight spots. If someone’s having trouble with reversing, read our blog on improving reversing skills.
Alarm system and/or immobiliser
As well as staying safe on the road, a car needs to be safe when parked. An alarm system in a car will often activate in the event of attempted theft, while an immobiliser will disable part of the car’s ignition system if the wrong key is inserted to start the car.
Here's a quick-glance checklist for car safety features: