Car buying tips: Essential safety features to look for

Safety features may be the most important factor to consider when purchasing a new car.

If you are in the market for a new car, you might be overwhelmed by all of the new safety features that are available on today’s models. Though most of us like to choose our vehicles by their appearances and the amount of room they provide, safety features are just as important to protect your family and yourself from injuries that can result from accidents. Consider carefully the many different safety features and the effectiveness of each one before you begin the process of selecting a vehicle.

You may not have had an airbag in your family car as a child, but they are now standard features. Airbags have evolved many times in the past twenty years from driver-side only airbags to side airbags. Airbags are parachute-like devices, which inflate when your vehicle is hit with a force at ten to fifteen miles per hour and above. Most vehicles come with driver-side and passenger-side airbags in the front seat only because airbags are dangerous for children under 12 or under the height of 5’5”. Side airbags protect drivers and front seat passengers from being injured in side collisions but they are not available in all vehicles. A side airbag in your car can greatly decrease your chance of serious injury in a side collision and should be a serious consideration when choosing a vehicle.

Car buying tips: Essential safety features to look for

Daytime running lights are another safety feature you can choose for you vehicle. Some models come with this feature standard and some will allow you to add it to your model at an extra cost. There is controversy about daytime running lights and whether or not they truly contribute to vehicle safety. Some studies have shown a slight decrease in daytime collision with vehicles that feature daytime running lights, while others show that these lights can actually cause accidents with the glare that they cause to other drivers on the road. Daytime running lights might be good for you but dangerous for other drivers.

Antilock brakes are quickly becoming standard features on most new cars, but there are still cars that do not feature them. Antilock brakes prevent your brakes from locking up when they are hit suddenly or when road conditions are slick. Without antilock brakes, you would have to manually pump the brakes to prevent them from locking up. Antilock brakes shorten stopping distances in slippery conditions and help prevent accidents. Strongly consider a vehicle with antilock brakes, you may even get a discount on your automobile insurance.

Another useful safety feature you may opt to include in your new vehicle is a reverse sensing system. Reverse sensing systems detect objects behind the vehicle that you may back up into at a distance of up to six feet. The reverse sensing system is activated whenever you put your car into reverse and it will sound an intermittent alarm when it detects an object behind you and the alarm will become more insistent as the object draws closer. This safety feature can prevent striking objects or pedestrians as you are backing up out of driveways and parking spaces. If the vehicle you are interested in does not have the option of a reverse sensing system, you can often get them installed by your local auto electronics center.

If you have a small child, many new cars now offer built-in child safety booster seats. These seats are often preferable to other safety seats as there is always the danger of improperly installing them and the built-in varieties do not need any adjustments that could lead to accidental injuries. Most new cars also offer child safety seat tethers, which anchor the seat in addition to securing them with the safety belts. Take into consideration the ages of your children when deciding on a car’s safety seat features.

All cars have head restraints in the front of the vehicle for drivers and passengers, but some cars now offer head restraints for rear passengers as well. Head restraints prevent whiplash in collisions if they are positioned properly. If you decide on a vehicle with rear head restraints, be sure that they are adjustable. A head restraint that is not positioned properly behind the head will not prevent injury and your passengers will likely be of different heights and the restraints will need to be adjusted to fit them.

Seat belts, which activate automatically when you sit in the car, are another excellent safety feature. You never have to think about fastening your seat belts and you may also get a discount on your automobile insurance. It is now the law in many states for car passengers to wear seat belts because they prevent so many deaths. If you don’t have to think about fastening your seat belt, you’ll always be sure to wear it.

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