Choosing a Safe Car – What Should You Look For?
Choosing a safe car is almost always a top concern when shopping for a new automobile. But many of us don’t necessarily know exactly what that means; what safety features to look for and how to know when we’ve found the car that meets our personal needs while still affording a reasonable degree of safety on the road. On average, we each spend 4.3 years of our lives driving. In that time, we’ll cover enough distance to go to the moon and back three times. Given the extraordinary amount of time we spend in our automobiles, and the fact that nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year – an average of 3,287 deaths per day – it stands to reason that we should take special care when purchasing a car.
What Makes a Safe Car?
How do you know if you’ve found a safe car? With so many components of an automobile’s design to consider, how should consumers know which to choose? First, consider some basics: be aware that vehicle size and weight do matter. Smaller, lighter vehicles fare worse in crash tests than larger, heavier ones. The reason for this is simple – there is less mass to absorb energy of a collision. If your circumstances allow, consider a larger, heavier vehicle when selecting your next car purchase. Also, be sure to look for a strong roof and a car with a good seat/head restraint configuration. Stronger roofs crush less easily and sustain less damage, and strong seat and head restraints reduce the potential of whiplash. Both are important to lessening your chances of serious injury in a crash.
More Things to Look For in a Safe Car
The most common gauge of automobile safety is performance in crash tests. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a nonprofit research organization, conduct crash tests and release crash test ratings each year. The NHTSA awards ratings up to five stars, while the the IIHS’s top score is “good.” A safe car should have received a good score from both the NHTSA and the IIHS.
Another factor to consider is the number of airbags in the vehicle. Aim for a car that has as many airbags as possible. Most new vehicles have at least six; two front, two front side, and two head-curtain airbags. However, knee airbags and back-seat side airbags are also available and becoming more common. A truly safe car will have all of the above.
New Technologies Can Help
Always assess a car’s visibility. Wide, non-tinted windows are always best. Take it for a test drive and make sure that it’s easy for you to see in all directions from behind the wheel. A wise investment is a rear view camera, which the NHTSA will soon make a “recommended technology.” Rear view cameras are usually offered on luxury or top-tier cars, but you’re often able to purchase one as part of an options package. A rear view camera can make a safe car even safer.
Many other new technologies are available that will increase safety. Some primary examples are forward collision warning systems and adaptive headlights, which have proven instrumental in reducing crashes. Forward collision warning systems use sensors to alert you if you’re approaching something too quickly. Some versions of these systems even include automatic braking. Adaptive front lighting systems automatically adjust your headlight intensity as you drive, giving you the optimal view no matter what time of day you’re driving. These systems will go a long way toward making your safe car wish list a reality.
The Safest Automobiles and Automobile Brands
Asian and European auto makers consistently take top honors for car safety. In IIHS’s top safety picks of 2015, the big winners included Acura, BMW, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Toyota and Volvo. However, safety levels have dramatically improved year to year. Last year, only 39 vehicles won slots in the Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ categories, while this year 71 vehicles met those category requirements. In your search for the safe car that best fits your needs, you can fully explore the top rated picks at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
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Aslin Tutuyan is a personal injury attorney with The Mandell Law Firm in Woodland Hills, California. Mandell Law is an aggressive personal injury law firm serving clients throughout the San Fernando Valley, the Greater Los Angeles area, and Southern California. Experienced and reputable, our attorneys provide hands-on care and sincere commitment to victims of personal injury and harms of all kinds, including auto accidents and defective products. Contact Aslin Tutuyan for a free consultation at 818.886.6600.