Whether you’re buying a new or a secondhand car, safety should be a key factor in your decision making – how the car behaves in a crash can make all the difference between life and death. Modern vehicles have a huge range of safety features and tech, making it hard to know which ones are important to an overall safety rating.
How safety ratings are calculated
New vehicles in Australia are tested by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). Cars are assessed on their safety features and how they perform in simulated crash situations, and then given a rating out of five stars. These ratings take into account the level of safety for drivers and front-seat passengers as well as pedestrians. Safety ratings for used vehicles, calculated by Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR), are based on how well these cars have performed in real-life situations, with information gathered from sources such as police reports. These ratings only take into account driver safety, and may not include new or less popular car models.
Things to look for when assessing car safety
In general, modern cars are safer than older cars, as they tend to have more safety features. When looking at second-hand vehicles, buyers should be aware of the features and technology that will determine the overall safety of their car. These fall into two categories: those that help you avoid a collision, and those that reduce the impact of a collision.
Crash avoidance features
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC) reduces the danger of skidding or loss of control through oversteering. This has been a mandatory feature for all cars registered from 2013.
- Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) prevent the wheels from locking up when the brakes are applied suddenly and work in conjunction with ESC.
- Traction Control prevents wheel spin during acceleration, which helps when driving on wet or slippery surfaces.
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) uses camera or radar to detect impending collisions and apply the brakes if there is no driver response.
- Other crash avoidance features include technology to aid drivers awareness of potential dangers, such as Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, or Cross-Rear Traffic Alert, while other features improve the vehicle’s visibility, like Daytime Running Lights.
Crash protection features
- Airbags help protect drivers and sometimes passengers in the event of a severe side or front collision. Placement includes front, side, curtain, knee, and even pedestrian airbags.
- Seat Belt Pre-Tensioners eliminate slack in the seat belt in the case of a collision and help prevent injuries.
- Active Head Rests move up and forward to place the occupant’s head in the safest position.
- Crumple Zones in the car’s body mean the vehicle itself absorbs most of the impact of the crash.
- Active Pedestrian Bonnet is designed to reduce the impact on a pedestrian by raising the bonnet slightly in the event of a collision.
Car safety features vary greatly between manufacturer, model, and year. Browse our range of new and used vehicles to find the best car for your needs and budget.