Car Safety Tips - The 5 "Must-have" Safety Features
Car safety tips, along with understanding the latest features, should come first when purchasing a new vehicle. This article highlights the top five car safety features that safety-conscious buyers should evaluate and critique as part of their car safety tips / checklist. In fact, these car safety tips and features should be on anyone's checklist when taking a test drive. Lastly, before taking test drives, review car safety ratings to choose the vehicles of most interest to you.
Car Safety Tips #1: Does the Vehicle Fit You?Our first in this series of car safety tips is to ensure that your seatbelt is a good fit. Seatbelts are designed to keep you from colliding with the steering wheel, dashboard, and windshield. Therefore, you want the belt to be as snug as possible, yet still comfortable.
In addition, be sure the car fits you -- meaning that there is nothing obstructing your view. If possible, take your test drive in the evening so you can evaluate the quality of the headlights as well.
Head restraints (aka "headrests") are designed to prevent neck injury in the event of a rear impact crash. Head restraints are required in the front seats but not in the rear. One of the car safety tips to remember is that the positioning of your head restraints need to be comfortable for you versus feeling like they are in the way. Dynamic head restraints offer the maximum protection as they adjust automatically in the event of a crash or when you adjust your seat, where most have to be adjusted manually.
Car Safety Tips #2: Front and Side AirbagsFront airbags will inflate depending on the speed at impact and the stiffness of the object struck. They are designed to keep you from hitting the dashboard, steering wheel, and windshield. Side airbags help to prevent you from hitting the door or objects that come through it. Having front airbags does not mean you don't need to wear your seatbelt. They won't protect you from injury in a side or rear impact, or a rollover. Car safety tip -- by wearing your seatbelt, you are reducing the risk of injury from the airbag.
One of the best car safety tips to maximize your protection is to always wear your seatbelt and keep 10 inches between the airbag and your chest. Airbags can be extremely dangerous to children. If you have children ages 12 and under, they should always sit in the back seat.
All head airbags are designed to inflate in side impacts and some will also inflate during rollovers. All are designed to prevent head injuries caused from striking the upper interior of the vehicle.
Car Safety Tips #3: Research Vehicle StabilityVehicle stability can be improved by a traction control system. These car safety systems control the amount the drive wheels can slip when excess power is applied. Engine power is automatically adjusted, and during acceleration, some systems will apply braking force to selected wheels. These systems are usually found in vehicles with four-wheel anti-lock braking systems, or ABS.
Car Safety Tips #4: Anti-lock Breaking System (ABS)When a driver "panic" brakes to avoid an accident, an anti-lock braking system prevents the wheels from locking up. This provides the driver with the ability to better steer the vehicle and under more control. This doesn't mean you are guaranteed to avoid a crash. You could still lose control when using extreme steering movements or when driving too fast.
You must learn to use ABS correctly in order to benefit from the system. Passenger cars that are equipped with ABS typically have four-wheel ABS. Meanwhile -- trucks, vans, and utility vehicles can have either four-wheel or two-wheel ABS. The four-wheel ABS monitors and controls all of the wheels and the two-wheel ABS only monitors and the two rear wheels. Brake Assist is included in some variations of ABS. The speed of force pressed on the brake pedal during emergency braking is detected and the required braking power is boosted temporarily.
Car Safety Tips #5: Electronic Speed ControlSome vehicles also offer Electronic Speed Control, which aids a driver in keeping control during extreme steering maneuvers. For example, if a vehicle starts to spin out, the Electronic Speed Control will sense the situation and automatically apply the brake to a single wheel.
An Electronic Speed Control system is designed to keep vehicles from veering off of the road. However, at extreme speeds, the Electronic Speed Control cannot keep a vehicle on the road.
In closing, as you prepare for your various test drives, be sure to review all of these car safety tips. In addition, review the car safety ratings published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Institute rates vehicles as "good", "acceptable", "marginal", or "poor" based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test, plus evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts. To earn TOP SAFETY PICK for 2012 a vehicle must have good ratings in all four tests.