Get to know your car’s safety features

Your car’s safety features can be vital to helping keep you and your passengers safe. But do you know what they all do and how they help reduce the likelihood of crashes and prevent serious injury or death?

Airbags

Driver and front passenger airbags have become common as standard equipment in cars since the early nineties and now were virtually a universal feature in new cars. Once automatically deployed in a crash, they cushion the occupant’s head, reducing potentially life-threatening injuries. An airbag would only deploy if the car was travelling at more than 25km/h, the angle of impact was within 30 degrees either side of the centre of the car, and the deceleration forces were at least equal to those produced when the vehicle hit an immovable barrier at 25km/hr. Front airbags would not deploy in side or rear collisions, or in a roll-over.

Side and curtain airbags helped to protect occupants against head, neck and thorax injuries during side impacts and rollovers. Knee bags protected lower limbs from injuries caused by impact with dash panels.

Anti-lock brakes

ABS or ALB brakes were standard equipment on all new cars. On slippery roads and under emergency braking conditions, anti-lock brakes reduced the likelihood of your wheels locking and your car skidding. This allowed maximum braking and the ability to continue to steer the car – things that would be lost if the car skids. RACQ warned it was normal to feel some pedal pulsation or kickback under full ABS braking conditions, but it was important to allow the system to work and maintain maximum pedal pressure while concentrating on steering the car to avoid any hazards.

Safety Rating

The Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) tested new vehicles in a laboratory to determine crash-worthiness and likely occupant injury levels in front and side impacts.  The ratings also factored in standard crash avoidance and other safety technologies and how ‘impact friendly’ the vehicle was to pedestrians. ANCAP provided car safety ratings based on these tests for popular makes and models of cars in Australia.

The Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) were based on real-life road crash data from across Australia and New Zealand.  The data is analysed and the car make and model given a star safety rating based on the outcomes of these crashes.

RACQ recommended motorists in the market for a new or used car always look at ANCAP and UCSR star ratings to pick the safest vehicle they can afford.

Safety Rating

The Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) tested new vehicles in a laboratory to determine crash-worthiness and likely occupant injury levels in front and side impacts.  The ratings also factored in standard crash avoidance and other safety technologies and how ‘impact friendly’ the vehicle was to pedestrians. ANCAP provided car safety ratings based on these tests for popular makes and models of cars in Australia.

The Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) were based on real-life road crash data from across Australia and New Zealand.  The data is analysed and the car make and model given a star safety rating based on the outcomes of these crashes.

RACQ recommended motorists in the market for a new or used car always look at ANCAP and UCSR star ratings to pick the safest vehicle they can afford.

Electronic stability control (ESC)

Most experts rated stability control systems as the most important safety innovation employed since seat belts. The system worked to control both understeer and oversteer by sensing the vehicle’s speed, acceleration, rotation and g-forces and making automatic adjustments to engine power and brakes to keep the vehicle stable and occupants safe. It has been mandatory as original equipment on new passenger cars since 2011.

Overspeed warning                                                                                             

Modern vehicles were often fitted with audible warnings heard when a predetermined speed set by the driver was reached. These may have been original equipment from the manufacturer or an add-on aftermarket system.

Car manufacturers continued to develop new crash avoidance and driver assistance technologies to reduce crash risk and minimise injury and death in collisions. RACQ encouraged Queensland drivers to consider the available safety features and choose a car that would offer their family the best protection while on the road.