How safe is your car?
Car safety features have come a long way since Harley Tarrant built Australia’s first petrol-driven vehicle at the turn of the 20th century. Features first thought of as ‘gimmicky’ – from windscreen wipers to headrests and indicator lights – are now standard, and safety assist technologies that not long ago might have sounded like science-fiction (like intelligent speed adaptation and autonomous emergency braking) will soon be the norm. So how safe is your car?
What makes a car safe?
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) is Australiasia’s independent vehicle safety authority. ANCAP publishes safety star ratings (out of five) for most new passenger, SUV, and light commercial vehicles entering the market in Australia and New Zealand. The higher the rating, the higher the level of safety for occupants and pedestrians in the event of a crash. Ratings also reflect the presence and effectiveness of safety technologies in crash avoidance and impact minimisation. ANCAP describes what makes a car safe as a combination of three key areas:
- Structural integrity – this is all about how well the body of a vehicle can withstand and redirect crash forces away from occupants. Crumple zones, cabin stability and door design (to allow for easy exit or rescue in the event of a collision) are key structural features.
- Passive safety features – these include protective systems that are designed to protect occupants in the event of a crash, including seat belts, airbags, anti-lock braking systems and electronic stability control.
- Safety assist technologies – these more active car safety features are generally found in newer vehicles, and will generally be automated to activate to prevent or reduce the impact of a crash. Common technologies include intelligent speech adaptation, active lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, reversing cameras, and autonomous emergency braking.
Vehicles with a good combination of features in each of these critical areas provide you with the best chance of survival in the event of a crash, or may even help you avoid one entirely. ANCAP arrive at their ratings through physical crash tests, assessment of passive safety equipment and performance testing of active safety assist technologies.
Used car safety ratings
If you’re in the market for a used vehicle, the Used Car Safety Rating (UCSR) is for you. USCR ratings are determined by a team of experts at the Monash University Accident Research Centre, using statistics collected from car crashes in Australia and New Zealand where someone was killed or seriously injured. The ratings examine the role of the vehicle in determining injury outcomes for drivers, occupants and other road users, and the vehicle’s design in relation to crash risk and avoidance.
How safe is my car?
The TAC has developed a great tool for easily finding the crash protection rating of your car, drawing on both the ANCAP and UCSR rating systems. Over 80% of all vehicles manufactured post 1990 are represented in the easily-searchable website called ‘How Safe is Your Car?’. Vehicles can be searched by make and model, or by number plate, making it really easy to get an understanding of the relative crash protection of your current car or future purchase!
Critical car safety checks
Of course vehicle safety isn’t just about how well your car is designed and manufactured; ongoing critical safety maintenance plays a really important role in crash prevention and minimisation of injury. Regular car safety checks are part of all good maintenance schedules and can play a key role in identifying risks before they become crash hazards that might compromise the safety of your family. Key areas of safety include tyres, braking systems, lights, restraints, and steering and suspension. As a VACC member, we conduct critical car safety checks on these features every time your car is serviced with us at Cox Auto. Call the workshop today on 03 9071 0146 to talk through any concerns you have with the safety of your vehicle – we’ll take care of you and your vehicle.