Your car can cost you an arm and a leg—literary! While it’s common sense that not all makes and models are equal when it comes to safety, what many people don’t realize when buying a car is the importance of carefully comparing each vehicles safety rating. Some vehicles do offer more passenger and driver protection than others and contrary to common belief, the big vehicles are not necessarily the safest.
There are ways to assess the safety of a car before purchasing it. On the same note, it is very important to keep up with current trends manufacturers are adopting for increased car safety.
The Technology behind Car Safety
Crash avoidance. One way in which a car’s safety is increased is through systems that assist in preventing the occurrence of an accident. Such systems include Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS), among others.
Driver assistance. These systems are also part of the crash avoidance preset, where the vehicle automatically takes action without the driver’s initiative. Automatic braking, automatic transmission, and reverse backup sensors are examples of driver assistance features.
Crashworthiness. This means the physical components of the car that help reduce the intensity of injuries in case the car is involved in an accident. One such system is the design of crumple zones, which is a current trend whereby the front end of the car crashes into folds like an accordion. The benefit of this system is that it reduces the energy of the crash impact so that by the time the crash force reaches the passenger, the damage is largely mitigated.
Air bags are another component of crashworthiness. Current car trends provide airbag placement in the front and sides of the car. The side curtain airbags deploy downwards from the roof rails near the door; and are especially useful in cases where the vehicle rolls over.
The Safest Cars of 2013–2014
So what are the safest cars on the market? While safe cars have been around for a long time, the most recent models to hit the showroom are:
1. Dodge Dart 2013
2. Ford Focus (Electric) 2014
3. Ford Fusion Energi 2013
4. Honda Accord (Coupe) 2014
5. Kia Optima 2014
You may be surprised to see that the models listed above are all compact cars as opposed to their larger counterparts. The reason behind this is that contrary to what many people may think, small cars are in fact much safer.
The Importance of Researching
When purchasing a car, do not judge its safety by its size, but rather, research its safety ratings. Different rating systems will apply for both new and used vehicles. All cars are taken through various crash test programs to find out how they fare in case of an accident. This information is available so do your homework and find out how a particular brand, say Toyota, is rated.
The results of the crash tests are used to determine the car’s safety, as well as the pedestrian protection provided in case of an accident. For secondhand cars you can look for Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR). These ratings provide a wealth of information so that you don’t have to walk into buying a used car blindly. Remember, just because it’s a used car that doesn’t mean it’s not safe. Take time and research. It’s better to pay more money and be assured of safety than pay less and eventually pay with your life or your limb.