Top 5 Car Safety Features to Look Out For

No matter if you are in the market for a new or used vehicle, one of the most important concerns should be safety. If you are purchasing a new car, make sure you do a little research to see what safety features it has and what the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) rates the vehicle. If a vehicle is rated “good” by the IIHS, which is the highest grade they give, so you can be assured it did well in safety testing.

The following are explanations of five of the top car safety features to look for:

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Electronic Stability Control or ESC as it is sometimes referred to in vehicle descriptions. ESC helps a driver maintain control of a vehicle during extreme steering situations. It works by applying the brakes when it senses the vehicle has severe oversteer or understeer. It applies the brake to a single wheel to slow the vehicle down gradually to help the driver regain control. It is designed to reduce the number of crashes that occur when a vehicle veers off the road, strikes a curb or other objects that can cause the vehicle to roll over. However, like any other safety feature, it has its limits and if the vehicle is traveling at an extremely high rate of speed, the system more than likely will not be able to stop a crash.

All-Wheel Drive (AWD)

All-wheel drive works by distributing a vehicles power equally between the front and rear wheels to allow for maximum traction. In some vehicles, the AWD system can provide more power to the front or rear when needed, but still maintain power to all four wheels. When combined with traction control it can also help prevent the drive wheels from losing traction when applying excess power during acceleration.

Traction Control

Traction control works by controlling the amount the drive wheels slip when applying excess power to accelerate. It works by adjusting the amount of power the engine puts out and in some vehicles applies brake pressure to selected wheels as well. You will find traction control more often in vehicles that have four-wheel antilock brake systems (ABS) as well.

Air Bags

The amount of airbags and their placement in a vehicle are important. The airbags will inflate in an accident depending on the speed of the vehicle and the solidness of what the vehicle hits. Front air bags prevent front seat occupants from hitting the dash, steering wheel and inside of the windshield. Side air bags keep occupants from hitting the door and protects them from any objects that might come through a door in an accident. Curtain airbags help to prevent rear passengers from hitting the front seats or being thrown into the front seats. Some newer vehicles also feature seat side airbags and knee airbags.

No matter how many airbags a vehicle has, if a vehicle occupant is not wearing their seatbelt, there is a good chance that they can be severely injured or even killed in any accident. Remember that drivers who are of shorter stature should sit farther away from the steering wheel to prevent receiving the whole impact of the airbag to the head and neck area and no matter how tall you are, you should leave at least 10 inches between your body and the airbag. If you have young children, never put a child under the age of 12 in the front seat and never put a rear-facing child seat in the front seat of a vehicle with airbags.

Seat Belts

Seat belts are designed to keep a driver and passengers from being ejected from a vehicle in an accident. The also help to prevent front seat passengers from taking the full force of an airbag and from colliding with the steering wheel, dash or windshield. Newer vehicles have adjustable seatbelts to allow drivers or passengers of shorter stature to place the seatbelt correctly over their shoulder. Some vehicles also have seat belts that have “energy management” features. They allow the seatbelts to give slightly during a severe crash to prevent the driver or passengers from actually being injured by the force of the seatbelt tightening. If you have a younger child that uses a car seat, make sure that the vehicle you are looking at also has rear seat belts that accommodate a child seat or booster seat.

While all these safety features can help a driver or passenger sustain fewer injuries in an accident, they are not guaranteed to save your life. If you are involved in a severe accident or an accident involving high speeds, no amount of safety equipment on a vehicle will keep you safe. Safety features are designed to help prevent severe injuries in moderate accidents. In order to make sure that you and you passengers are safe, always follow the rules of the road, do not drive at excessive speeds, and change your driving in order to fit the weather and road conditions. Another thing to remember is that safety features only work if you use them, so make sure everyone fastens their seat belt, including yourself, before you put your vehicle in drive.