What makes a car safe? Features to look for when buying new

February 11, 2019 7:10 am | Peter Warren, peterwarrenford.com.au, peterwarrenhyundai.com.au, peterwarrenkia.com.au

Close to 49,000 people have died in road accidents in Australia since 1989 – over 1,000 per year, according to government data. That shocking statistic tells us that we should all do whatever we can to keep ourselves safe while we get from A to B.

To that end, new cars often include a range of smart and sensible features that help us to avoid accidents and keep drivers safe if they do happen. In comment to QBE, Jerome Carslake, Manager of the National Road Safety Partnership Program, made it clear that these features can save lives:

"If you have a vehicle with a five-star safety rating, curtain airbags and added safety technology you are far more likely to survive than in a car without."

1. Autonomous emergency braking

Many accidents are caused by momentary lapses in concentration and focus due to fatigue or distraction – things that could happen to anyone.

Autonomous emergency braking is a smart features that senses your surroundings and brakes automatically to help you avoid a collision. This feature is common on mid-to-high-end cars, including the all-new Hyundai Santa Fe

2. Lane departure warning and lane keep assist

It's easy to veer out of your lane a little when you change the radio station or talk to the kids in the back seat. Lane departure warning senses the correct path and provides visual and audio warning should you depart from it, and eventually steering inputs should you continue to veer.

This feature is included in most new cars and is very effective at preventing accidents  on motorways, and head-on collisions on country roads. 

3. Rear park assist and reversing cameras

Many of Australia's accidents occur at low speeds when drivers are either reversing or navigating a car park . Usually, these cause nothing more than small dents and frustration, but occasionally when a pedestrian is involved, injury or even death can occur. Reverse cameras and rear parking assist reduce the risk of low-speed accidents.

Seeing out the rear of your car from a low-angled camera feeding to a screen in the dash makes it near-impossible to miss other motorists, obstacles or pedestrians when reversing. Rear park assist makes your job even easier, taking over the steering when backing into a car park, leaving you to handle the brakes and accelerator.

The acclaimed Kia Stinger, and most of Kia's range includes this feature. 

4. Driver attention monitor

All it takes to cause an accident is a moment's distraction – that's why driver attention monitors are such a great feature. This technology uses sensors to determine whether your attention is focused on the road and provides audio-visual feedback to snap you back into it should you lose focus. 

This helps keep you focused at all times, which is of course an effective way of keeping you safe on the road.

5. Adaptive cruise control

It's easy to have an accident when there's traffic on motorways, especially when it alternates between moving fast and stopping in place. During times like these adaptive cruise control makes driving safer and easier. 

Instead of constantly switching between the brakes and accelerator, this feature allows you to set a preferred speed and following distance. It then automatically brakes when traffic slows to maintain that following distance, then accelerates to bring the car back up to speed. 

This is available on most mid to high-end new cars, including the Ford Ranger WildTrak and several other Ford models. 

6. 5-star ANCAP safety rating

If you're not keen to spend time researching the safety features of a new car, why not leave it to experts that you can trust? The Australia New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) give every vehicle a ranking from one to five – one being the least safe and five being the most. 

This organisation tests cars in collision situations and looks at everything from the way the cars crumple, to the functionality of its advanced safety features and the placement of its airbags. Once they've taken all factors into account, they determine how safe the car is overall, with only the safest receiving five stars. For that reason, the simplest way to ensure the car you're about to buy is safe is to research its ANCAP result or ask your dealer. 

For help picking a car that will keep you and your occupants safe, drop in and visit the team at your nearest Peter Warren Automotive today.