Car News

Safety Sells

RELATED READING
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon

author photo by Autotrader October 2007

Long before Ralph Nader played his part-love it or hate it-influencing the outcome of the Presidential Election of 2000, he influenced the auto industry for decades by making safety a word to remember. By the 1990s, the auto industry, motivated by the realization that safety sells, moved to offer high-tech safety features such as whiplash systems, side curtain airbags, and stability control systems. With more safety features than ever, and a heightened consumer awareness of auto safety, you owe it to yourself and your family to choose the vehicle that's safest. Here are some tips on how to find it:

Check the crash-test ratings. There are two main organizations that independently crash-test vehicles in the U.S.: the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the insurance industry's Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Consumer Reports magazine (Consumers Union) also does low-speed bumper testing on vehicles. The NHTSA posts front, side, and rear crash-test results with ratings based on the estimated likelihood of injury for the driver and passengers, and the agency also figures Rollover Resistance Ratings for all vehicles, including popular SUVs. Also check the NHTSA's database for any safety problems, recalls, or service issues pertaining to the model you're considering. For a second opinion, see the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 40-mph offset crash tests, low-speed bumper tests, and head restrain tests. As a general rule, heavier vehicles offer better protection in multi-vehicle crashes, although this isn't necessarily the case for single-vehicle crashes.

Check the level of safety equipment in the car. Anti-lock brakes are a must. You might never rely on them in normal driving, but they'll prove themselves in panic situations. Now, even on many inexpensive models, side airbags are optional, and anti-lock brakes are standard in all but the cheapest models. With most insurance companies giving discounts for such equipment, and resale values with such equipment higher (now that consumers are more safety savvy), even if you're never in an accident it could pay off to have them. Traction control does little for overall safety, but a stability control system can prevent an accident on a slippery corner, intervening quietly before the driver can react.

A safe back seat is a must for the kids. If you have smaller children, they should always sit in the back seat, in a proper child seat or booster seat. Make sure that the child seat and booster seat can be safely anchored in the back.

Does the car fit your needs? Is there adequate space for your pets, cargo, and anything else that you might occasionally carry? You shouldn't ever have to compromise visibility or compromise your driving position for cargo-for instance, by cramming a snowboard into a small sedan or having to move the front seat forward for rear-seat passengers.

How do you fit the car? Really, this is serious. Can you barely reach the pedals or the steering wheel? Or are your knees mashed against the center console? If so, then aside from being uncomfortable, you're likely to sustain added injuries if you're ever in a crash. You'd probably find it hard to respond quickly in an emergency, too, if you don't fit well in the driver's seat. The driver's chest should be positioned at least ten inches from the steering wheel, to assure proper operation of the airbag. On the opposite scale, taller drivers shouldn't have to recline the seatback to fit comfortably. Some vehicles are now coming with adjustable pedals to help shorter drivers get a safer position, but not much can be done to help the tall ones.

Do you feel comfortable driving it? Take the car that you are potentially going to purchase on a daylong test drive, if possible. Make sure you feel confident about the way it brakes, steers, and rides. Seat comfort and comfort with a car's controls play a very important role in safety, so don't choose a vehicle that you don't feel comfortable with.



©2007 by The Car Connection™ All Rights Reserved - The Car Connection is a Trademark of DA Acquisition
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Safety Sells - Autotrader