Is Your Car Safe?
Ever Wondered How Safe Your Car is? How Safe Your Car Is Can Be The Difference Between Walking Away From A Major Accident Or Not!
Aug 18, 2014
When you’re shopping for a new or used car, safety is likely to be one of your main concerns. Ensuring that you and your passengers are safe on the roads is paramount and modern cars are now safer than they have ever been.
But, what is it about modern cars that makes them safe? In our guide, we look at the safety features on your car, we explain what Euro NCAP tests mean and we give you some invaluable advice on what you can do to keep your car safe. Keep reading to find out more.
Active v passive safety features
Safety systems on cars are generally divided into two types: ‘active’ and ‘passive’.
Active safety features are those which help a car to avoid having an accident. For example, most cars now come with a range of electronic systems such as anti-lock brakes (ABS) and an ‘electronic stabilisation programme’ which helps the car’s grip and handling.
Many modern cars also have a range of other systems which can help make the car safer to drive. These systems slow the car down slightly to allow tyres to maintain grip and even apply different levels of braking to each wheel to keep the car balanced.
Other ‘active’ safety systems include:
A blind spot monitor
Speed sign recognition
As well as electronic systems, ‘active’ safety can also include factors such as the thickness and placement of windscreen pillars, the weight of the car and good quality tyres.
Passive safety features are those which protect you and your passengers once you are actually having an accident. Examples include:
In modern cars, airbags and seatbelts use pyrotechnics to tighten your seatbelt and trigger the airbags around you in milliseconds once you commence having an accident.
The seatbelt and airbags are designed to work very precisely together. Airbags deploy in specific directions, at specific speeds, and the seatbelt makes sure you are held in the right place to benefit from that.
Modern cars are also designed to crumple in very specific ways. By doing this, they absorb and divert as much impact energy as possible away from the cabin which is heavily reinforced.
This crumpling and energy absorption is why you will often find that older cars are far less safe in an accident. This is because they are not designed to crumple in a controlled manner.
To help you remain safe on the road, passive safety systems on modern cars are subject to strict laws, as we see next.
How do Euro NCAP safety ratings work?
By law, all new car models must pass certain safety tests before they are sold. While legislation provides a minimum standard of safety for new cars, Euro NCAP aims to encourage manufacturers to exceed these minimum requirements.
A Euro NCAP safety rating is composed of scores in four areas: adult protection, child protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist. The overall score is calculated by weighing the four scores with respect to each other, while making sure that not one area is underachieving.
Each model has one Euro NCAP safety rating with a maximum of five stars.
What to look for when buying a ‘safe’ car
There are a number of things you can do to make sure you are buying a car that is safe for you and your family:
Look at the Euro NCAP ratings and find a model with a good rating
Make sure the car you buy is comfortable and check how easy it is for you to see ahead, behind and to the sides. People and cars are all shapes and sizes and it pays to pick a model
with good visibility for you
Test the brakes to see how the pedal feels
Check blind spots and mirrors and make sure you can clearly see traffic all around you
What you can do to make sure your car is safe
Once you have bought a new or used car there are steps you can take to make sure your car is safe as it can be on an ongoing basis.
First, keep your car clean both inside and out. Loose items in the cabin can roll under the brake pedal and be a real danger while dirty mirrors or windows can affect your visibility.
Secondly, check your tyres regularly. Make sure the pressure is correct and that there is no damage to your tyres. Also check your wheel nuts are tight and, if you feel any vibration in the steering wheel or overall ride of the car, the wheels may need balancing.
Brakes also need to be regularly checked as your pads wear out over time. Get them checked on a regular basis.